MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kole Calhoun hit a three-run home run in the 10th inning to cap Cleveland’s late comeback against the Minnesota bullpen, and the Guardians beat the Twins 5-2 Wednesday to trim their deficit in the AL Central to five games.
Five relievers had a hand in squandering another stellar start by Sonny Gray, who gave the Twins seven scoreless innings. Emilio Pagán (5-2) took the loss despite pitching the best of the bunch. He got the first two outs in the 10th and intentionally walked José Ramírez before yielding to rookie Kody Funderburk, who made his major league debut Monday with two perfect innings against the Guardians.
Calhoun crushed a 3-0 fastball from Funderburk into the seats behind right-center, prompting a collective sigh from the crowd of 20,169. The Twins fell to 11-7 in extra innings.
Trevor Stephan (6-4) struck out the side in the ninth for the win. Emmanuel Clase pitched a perfect 10th for his 36th save in 45 chances. The Twins didn’t have a hit after the fifth inning.
The two teams play three more times this year, next week in Cleveland, with only 28 games to go. The season series is tied at five wins apiece. Minnesota has been in first place for 143 of 153 days.
Gray threw only 81 pitches. He left with a 2-0 lead on Jorge Polanco’s two-run single in the fifth.
Jhoan Duran took his fifth blown save in 28 opportunities after throwing a two-out, two-strike wild pitch that allowed Andrés Giménez to score the tying run. Duran, who has only one perfect inning in his last 17 appearances since July 15, put himself in trouble with a one-out walk to Giménez. Duran recovered from the wild pitch to strike out pinch-hitter Bo Naylor and end the inning.
Griffin Jax gave up a leadoff double to Arias in the eighth inning, and Steven Kwan drove him in with a two-out single off Caleb Thielbar.
Gray scattered three hits and one walk with five strikeouts while lowering his ERA to an AL-best 2.92 among pitchers with a qualified amount of innings. The All-Star right-hander, who has taken no-decisions in 15 of his 28 starts, didn’t record a single victory in May, June or July. He won three of six starts in August, posting a 2.04 ERA over 39 2/3 innings.
After the Twins went hitless in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position Tuesday in a 4-2 loss, Polanco delivered with a well-placed poke into shallow center field with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning against Guardians starter Tanner Bibee (10-4).
Bibee had eight strikeouts in five innings with four runs and three walks allowed, after Tuesday starter Gavin Williams was forced out with knee soreness after only one inning.
Polanco reached base all four times he batted, including a leadoff double in the fourth, but Carlos Correa hitting behind him in the order didn’t help him score.
Correa struck out twice, popped out in foul territory after Polanco’s single in the fifth and grounded into a double play in the eighth, triggering some boos from the fans in the club sections behind the plate. Correa, who signed a six-year, $200 million contract with the Twins during the offseason, leads the major leagues with 28 grounded-into-double-plays.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (2-6, 6.45 ERA) will pitch Friday to open a three-game series at Tampa Bay. Quantrill has missed nearly two months with shoulder inflammation, his second injured list stint this season. The Rays had yet to declare a starter.
Twins: RHP Joe Ryan (9-8, 4.33 ERA) takes the mound Friday in Texas to begin a three-game series. RHP Max Scherzer (12-5, 3.71 ERA) starts for the Rangers, a reprise of their pitching matchup at Target Field last Saturday.