- Associated Press - Saturday, September 24, 2011

CLEVELAND (AP) - Francisco Liriano thinks he can carry something positive into the offseason. Well, at least his left shoulder isn’t hurting.

“I feel way better than the last time I pitched,” Liriano said after allowing five runs in one-third of an inning in an 8-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians in the opener of Saturday’s day-night doubleheader. “That’s the main thing for me, how my shoulder’s going to feel. I feel fine.”

The loss was Minnesota’s 17th in 19 games and seventh straight against Cleveland. The Twins are four defeats away from their first 100-loss season since 1982.

Minnesota’s Danny Valencia and Denard Span were back in the lineup after missing one game. They were involved in a minor car accident on the way to the airport on Thursday, when Span drove into the back of Valencia’s car.

Liriano, who pitched a no-hitter against the Chicago White Sox on May 3, had been on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Manager Ron Gardenhire has used him out of the bullpen since he was activated last week.

Liriano (9-10) entered a 2-all tie in the sixth after Brian Duensing gave Minnesota five strong innings. He walked Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana, then loaded the bases when he hit Travis Hafner with a pitch.

Shelley Duncan’s sacrifice fly gave Cleveland the lead, and Matt LaPorta’s RBI double and Jack Hannahan’s run-scoring bloop single made it 5-2, finishing Liriano, who gave up two hits, walked two and hit a batter.

“One minute everything was fine,” Liriano said. “I think I was rushing and trying to overthrow. The ball was moving everywhere. It was one of those days.”

Liriano threw 25 pitches, only 10 for strikes.

“Frankie was misfiring,” Gardenhire said. “He felt great. That’s the key for us. We tried to get him through an inning. It wasn’t going to work out. We didn’t want him to throw 50 pitches in an inning.”

Liriano, who has thrown 134 1-3 innings, doesn’t think he’ll pitch in Minnesota’s final five games.

Jim Hoey replaced Liriano and was greeted by Kosuke Fukudome’s RBI single and Kipnis’ two-run single.

Duensing allowed two runs and three hits in five innings, his first start since leaving a game Sept. 3 with a strained right oblique. He had worked three times in relief since.

Duncan’s two-run double in the first put Cleveland ahead, but Duensing didn’t allow any more damage.

“I was able to throw everything for strikes,” Duensing said. “I settled down after the first inning. I needed that going into the end of the season. Everything feels fine. It took all year, but it’s probably the best I’ve felt.”

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