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Updated: July 21st, 2010 3:02pm
Francisco Liriano twirls seven shutout innings as Twins win, avoid sweep

Francisco Liriano twirls seven shutout innings as Twins win, avoid sweep

by Tom Pelissero
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Francisco Liriano appears to be back on track.

The Minnesota Twins left-hander threw seven shutout innings on Wednesday, scattering six hits and striking out eight to beat the Cleveland Indians 6-0.

In his last five starts before the All-Star break, Liriano was 0-4 with a 6.75 earned-run average in 26 2/3 innings. In two starts since, he's allowed two runs over 14 2/3 (1.23 ERA) and beaten the Chicago White Sox and Indians.

Wednesday's victory allowed the Twins (50-45) to avoid a sweep at the hands of Cleveland (40-55), which remains in last place despite winning its first six games after the All-Star break.

J.J. Hardy's two-run double capped a four-run third inning in which the Twins batted around to give Liriano all the support he needed.

Jesse Crain pitched a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, Delmon Young's bad-hop rip to shortstop brought home two runs in the bottom half and then Anthony Slama -- making his major league debut -- allowed a leadoff single before striking out Shelley Duncan and Trevor Crowe and getting Jason Donald to ground out and end it.

It was a positive ending to an up-and-down homestand for the Twins, who went 4-3 and are three games behind Chicago heading into the White Sox's late game at Seattle.

Now comes a seven-game road trip to Baltimore and Kansas City. Carl Pavano (11-6, 3.48 ERA) will start Thursday's opener against fellow right-hander Kevin Millwood (2-8, 5.77) and the Orioles.

Tom Pelissero is Senior Editor and columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He hosts from 6 to 8 p.m. weeknights and co-hosts from 10 a.m. to noon Sundays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Tom | @TomPelissero | Tom Pelissero
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