Francisco Liriano twirls seven shutout innings as Twins win, avoid sweep
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
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.