CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kosuke Fukudome knows the Cleveland Indians are in must-win mode in the AL Central race.
The outfielder, acquired a month ago to help the injury-plagued Indians, drove in the first run in a 2-1 win over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night that got the Indians within 5 1/2 games of first-place Detroit. The Tigers lost 9-5 at home to Kansas City.
"We have to win every single game and not worry about other teams," Fukudome said through an interpreter after Cleveland's third win in four games.
Carlos Santana added his 20th homer for a 2-0 lead as David Huff and four relievers combined to limit the Athletics to five hits to help the Indians improve to 17-8 at home in one-run games this season.
Huff (2-2) gave up three hits over six scoreless innings to win for the first time in six starts, since beating Minnesota in his season debut on July 18. The lefty hadn't worked in nine days - since giving up five runs in 2 1-3 innings in a 10-1 loss in Detroit during the Tigers' three-game sweep that sent the Indians tumbling to six losses in seven games.
"I was a little jittery at first," said Huff, who threw 40 pitches over the first two innings. "It kind of felt like the first game of the season or something because I had not worked. Then I got into a groove with my fastball and was able to throw strikes."
Chris Perez struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 30th save in 34 chances as Oakland lost for the fourth time in five games.
"I try to do that every time, but sometimes I'm not as lucky," Perez said. "I'd like to have 75 of these a year.
"Winning the first game of this series is big. We have four games against a team we should beat and we need to beat. We have to take advantage of every game."
Santana hit his 20th homer to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead in the seventh against Brandon McCarthy (7-7), who lost for the second time in nine starts since July 15. It was only the eighth homer allowed by the right-hander and seventh without a runner on base. It was his third complete game this season, all losses.
"It's either some sort of statistical fluke or I'm giving up runs when I shouldn't be," McCarthy said. "It's a bittersweet feeling. I want to get deep into games and getting a complete game is a point of pride, but doing it and giving up too many runs isn't something I'm thrilled with."
Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Ezequiel Carrera lined a two-out single to center and scored from first on Fukudome's line double into the right-field corner.
"A big hit there and a good slide," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Oakland's Kurt Suzuki took the relay throw from second baseman Jemile Weeks on the first-base side of the plate, but Carrera swiped the plate, eluding the catcher's lunging tag.
The Athletics broke through in the eighth against relievers Joe Smith and Tony Sipp .
Scott Sizemore lined a leadoff double off Smith. Sipp came on and Sizemore stole third. Weeks followed with an RBI double to make it 2-1.
After Coco Crisp failed to advance Weeks with a bunt, Hideki Matsui backed Fukudome against the wall in right field with a fly ball that sent Weeks to third. Had Weeks been able to move up on the bunt, he could have almost walked home on Matsui's out.
Vinnie Pestano replaced Sipp and got Josh Willingham on a called third strike to strand Weeks. Willingham slammed his batting helmet to the ground after umpire Rob Drake made the call on a pitch that appeared low and outside of the strike zone.
"A huge out by Vinnie," Acta said. "And (catcher) Santana looked Weeks back to second on the bunt. Big play because then Matsui hit that fly ball."
McCarthy struck out a career-high 10 over eight innings, allowing two runs, five hits and only one walk.
The Athletics have averaged 6.1 runs in McCarthy's seven wins and only 1.7 runs in his seven losses.
Notes: Indians 2B Jason Donald was a late scratch with a contusion of his right index finger. He hurt it fielding a ground ball Sunday. Cleveland has six players on the disabled list and Acta said he doesn't know when another, OF Shin-Soo Choo, will be able to play. Choo has a strained left side. ... Oakland sent RHP Graham Godfrey to Triple-A Sacramento and is expected to call up a player Tuesday. ... Cleveland will recall RHP Jeanmar Gomez to start Tuesday and will make a corresponding roster move. ... Oakland will counter with RHP Trevor Cahill (9-12), who has struggled since the All-Star break, going 1-5 with a 7.00 ERA in eight starts. He opened the season 6-0 with a 1.72 ERA through May 14, but is 3-12 with a 5.19 ERA since. ... Huff was the 13th lefty faced by the Athletics in 21 games, going 6-7. Oakland is 22-24 overall against lefties. ... Perez, who became Cleveland's closer in mid-2010 when RHP Kerry Wood was dealt to the Yankees, has 54 saves, fifth on the Indians' all-time list, 40 behind No. 4 Michael Jackson.