- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

CLEVELAND (AP) - Hector Santiago’s debut with the Twins did not go well on what was an otherwise successful series against the Indians.

The left-hander gave up four runs over five innings in his first start with the team, allowing Cleveland to cruise to a 9-2 victory over Minnesota on Thursday.

The Twins outscored the Indians 35-16 in winning the first three games of the series, but were unable to complete their first-ever four-game sweep in Cleveland, which leads the AL Central.

“I’ll take three out of four anytime, especially against one of the best teams in the AL,” said Minnesota second baseman Brian Dozier, who went 2 for 4 with his 22nd home run of the year. “We were clicking on all cylinders here.

“When you’ve gone through a season like we’ve had, it’s tough, but I hope the younger guys gain a lot of confidence from the way we played.”

Dozier’s solo homer came off Indians starter Mike Clevinger and gave him longballs in three straight games. He also has a 13-game hitting streak and leads the majors with 15 home runs since June 19, including five in his last five contests.

“Brian is showing great pitch recognition and trust in his hands,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “He’s had a real nice run for almost two months now.”

Santiago (10-5), who was acquired Monday in a four-player trade with the Angels, suffered his first loss since June 10. Carlos Santana hit a two-run shot and Jason Kipnis had a solo homer in ending his seven-game winning streak.

“It was good, I only made two bad pitches,” Santiago said. “Two cutters that stood in the middle of the plate, that’s it.”

Joe Mauer had two hits, while Kurt Suzuki drove in Minnesota’s other run with a single. Mauer batted .667 (12 for 18) with five doubles and six RBIs in the series, but committed two costly baserunning mistakes in the finale.

In the third, Mauer was caught off first on a lineout to center, ending the inning a split-second before Suzuki crossed home plate.

Two innings later, Max Kepler punched a hit into the right field corner with Mauer on first. Kepler was about to slide into second when he realized that Mauer had stopped there, leading to Mauer being tagged out.

“Joe was involved in a few plays that hurt us,” Molitor said. “That second one wound up a long way from third base, so he could have put more pressure on the defense. You can always check up in a situation like that.”

Kepler went 1 for 4, completing the series 8 for 16 (.500) with eight runs, four homers and 10 RBIs. He leads AL rookies in the latter two categories with 15 and 48, respectively.

Twins first baseman Kennys Vargas was hitless in three at-bats, but received cheers after breaking his bat over his right thigh after an eighth-inning strikeout.

HOT SEAT

Twins 3B Miguel Sano went 1 for 2, but is in a 4 for 28 slump (.143) and batting just .239 in his second season. He also has 15 errors. Molitor said Sano’s work ethic needs improvement and won’t rule out sending him to the minors. “We’ve had a lot of conversations this year,” the manager said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe (broken left rib) will be recalled Monday from his rehab assignment at Triple-A Rochester, barring an unexpected setback this weekend.

UP NEXT

Twins: RHP Ervin Santana opens a three-game series in Tampa Bay. He went six innings, allowing one earned run, in winning his last start July 31 against the White Sox.

Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin, pitching on extended five days rest, takes the mound to begin a three-game set at the Yankees. He is 6-1 with a 2.75 ERA on the road.

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