MINNEAPOLIS — Nick Gordon's third-inning homer was the only run the Twins needed Thursday as they avoided a three-game sweep and regained a share of first place in the AL Central with a 1-0 victory over Cleveland.
The Twins improved to 39-32 in front of an announced 24,929 fans at Target Field, while the Guardians dropped to 36-29. Although the teams are tied atop the Central, Cleveland technically leads with a .554 win percentage to the Twins' .549.
The Twins had blown late-inning leads in losing 6-5 in 11 innings on Tuesday and 11-10 on Wednesday. The teams will meet again in Cleveland for five games in four days starting Monday.
Twins starter Devin Smeltzer (4-1) lasted six innings and gave up only three hits while striking out three. The first reliever out of the bullpen, Joe Smith, saw Cleveland inch the closest to scoring after he loaded the bases on a walk, a double and a hit batsman. But the Twins got two force outs at home before Myles Straw lined out to end the inning.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli pulled reliever Jhoan Duran from the game after Duran struck out out the first batter in the ninth and put Caleb Thielbar on the mound. The crowd booed, as Duran had struck out three without allowing a hit or a run through his 1 1/3 innings, though he did hit a batter. Thielbar immediately gave up a line-drive double, but he induced a force out and struck out the final hitter to earn his first save of the season.
Guardians starter Zach Plesac (2-5) was the hard-luck loser. He went six innings and gave up three hits, including Gordon's second homer of the season.
Carlos Correa had three hits for the Twins to raise his average to .303, but AL batting leader Luis Arraez was 0 for 4 and his average fell to .349.
Twins home run leader Byron Buxton sat out a second consecutive game because of knee soreness, but his replacement was Gordon, who made a big difference.©2022 StarTribune. Visit startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.