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Willingham plays hero as Twins end three-game skid

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Josh Willingham's 8th inning home run saves the Twins and Minnesota picks up their first victory of the second half.

Hannah Foslien

After being swept by the Rays to open the second half of the season, Minnesota defeated the Cleveland Indians by the hammer of Josh. It was Casey Fien coughing up the lead in top of the eighth, when pinch-hitting Michael Brantley laced a one-out double and eventually scored, tying the game at 3-3. But in the bottom of the eighth, Josh Willingham launched one into the left field bleachers and the Twins took the lead for good. It was Willingham's ninth blast and just his third extra-base hit since June 30th.

Kris Johnson was on the hill making his third start of the season, opening up the game by striking out the side. Minnesota got on the board in the bottom of the second when Kendrys Morales and Willingham opened with back-back singles. All-Star Kurt Suzuki doubled both in, putting the Twins up 2-0. Suzuki continues his career year, including being terrific with runners in scoring position.

Johnson would give the lead right back to Cleveland in the third inning. Lonnie Chisenhall, in the midst of having his own fantastic year, opened up the frame by lining a single into center. (Why the hell was he batting EIGHTH today? He's batting .325 this season and has amazing numbers with RISP meanwhile Carlos Santana and Ryan Raburn are batting a healthy .205 and .201 respectively. Well played, Francona.) The Twins would trade blows with the Indians, getting a pair of doubles from Danny Santana and Trevor Plouffe. Santana scored, but Plouffe was tagged out at third trying to stretch the double.

Yan Gomes would get Cleveland within one run in the fifth inning, and that was be the end for Johnson. The Twins starter went five innings, giving up five hits, two runs and punched out five. Following the game Johnson was demoted to Rochester which makes room for Yohan Pino, who starts tomorrow. The move leaves an opening in the rotation for Saturday.

Caleb Thielbar and Jared Burton would hold the lead in the sixth and seventh, and Glen Perkins picked up his 23rd save in the Twins tonight. Yay Twins!

Studs

Suzuki

Willingham

Duds

That Pickoff Attempt