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CLEVELAND (AP) — Rookie Gavin Williams and four relievers cooled off Minnesota’s offense and the Cleveland Guardians avoided a three-game sweep with a 2-1 win on Wednesday.
Minnesota still leads second-place Cleveland by six games in the AL Central with 22 games left. The Twins won the first two games of the series against the defending division champs by a combined 28-9 score. Cleveland won the season series 7-6.
The Twins seemingly scored at will Monday and Tuesday. Cleveland’s pitchers responded with a combined two-hitter and 11 strikeouts. Minnesota drew five walks, but was 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Williams (2-5) didn’t allow a hit until Andrew Stevenson’s RBI single in the fifth. He walked four and struck out four. Royce Lewis singled off Sam Hentges in the sixth. Hentges, Reynaldo López, Nick Sandlin and Emmanuel Clase each worked a scoreless inning. Clase retired all three hitters he faced in the ninth for his 38th save in 47 chances.
Will Brennan had an RBI single in the second and a run-scoring double in the fourth.
Twins starter Joe Ryan (10-9) made his third start since being on the 15-day injured list with a strained groin. The right-hander allowed two runs in four innings.
Minnesota hit six home runs and took the series opener 20-6 on Monday. Lucas Giolito allowed nine runs in three innings in his Cleveland debut. Guardians utility player Davd Fry pitched the final four innings and allowed seven runs. The Twins scored five runs in the eighth inning in Tuesday’s 8-3 win.
Williams started against Minnesota last week, but was removed after one inning because of a knee injury. The rookie’s only win prior to Wednesday came against Kansas City on July 8.
Williams received a major boost from his outfield defense in the second. Brennan made a sliding catch near the left field line on Willi Castro’s fly ball. Myles Straw ran down Ryan Jeffers’ line drive in the gap in left-center and hung on despite a hard landing on his left shoulder.
The third inning ended when Williams speared Lewis’ line drive to the mound.
Andrés Giménez had a leadoff double in the second and scored on Brennan’s single. Giménez singled, stole second and scored on Brennan’s fourth-inning double.
The game was delayed by rain for 1 hour, six minutes in the bottom of the third.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (2-6, 6,16 ERA) is the scheduled starter in the opener of a four-game road series Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels.