MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Andrés Giménez and Steven Kwan hit solo homers, Shane Bieber had another strong start and the Cleveland Guardians finished off a sweep of the Minnesota Twins with a 4-1 win Sunday.
Bieber (10-8) went 6 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out seven. Bieber has allowed more than two runs just once in his last nine starts. James Karinchak walked a pair of batters in the ninth inning but struck out three to earn his second save.
“It’s big,” Bieber said of the three-game sweep. “I think we feel good about it for some solid reasons. There’s a lot of areas we can continue to get better at, but we knew it was big series coming in. So, to be able to capitalize on that was good for us.”
Cleveland had lost nine of its previous 13 games but still held a 1 1/2 game lead over Minnesota in the American League Central entering the series. The Guardians strengthened their position and the Twins have lost nine of 11 and are in third place, 4 1/2 games back.
“This is not done yet,” Minnesota’s Luis Arraez said. “We’re waiting for a lot of games to come. We’re just waiting for Kansas City. We just need to win games. That’s it.”
Josh Winder (4-4) gave up two runs in four innings for the Twins after being recalled from Triple-A St. Paul before the game. Winder, who made his first major league start since July 13, had recently returned from the minor league injured list.
Minnesota trailed early for the third straight game when Giménez hit his 16th homer in the second. Kwan led off the third with his fourth homer of the year.
Gary Sánchez drove in a run in the fifth as a pinch-hitter for the Twins as his ground ball deflected off the third-base bag, allowing Nick Gordon to score from third. Gio Urshela and Gordon started the seventh with singles off Bieber to put runners on the corners with no outs.
Bieber retired Kyle Garlick on an infield popout. Sam Hentges relieved Bieber and got a popout and strike out to leave the tying run at third.
“We do it again and do have some of those good at-bats right at the end of the game,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldellli said. “Not enough. It’s not the series we’re even close to looking for here. … I would say as disappointing as that is, there’s still games to be played here and there’s still games against this team, there’s still games against other teams in our division.”
The Guardians added two insurance runs in the ninth.
“I don’t remember winning here and being that, that much anxiety at the end of the game,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “We made it hard, but we won and that’s not an easy thing to do.”
The Guardians have won five straight games against Minnesota and posted their first series sweep of the Twins since 2017.
“It was a big weekend, big weekend for us,” Hentges said.
OBSERVE AND SUCCEED
Kwan finished with three hits Sunday and continued his standout rookie season with a big series. He was 4 for 11 in the series with four walks and is now hitting .291. He added his 14th stolen base on Sunday.
“He’s smart and he watches,” Francona said of Kwan hitting his homer on the first pitch of the at-bat. “He pays attention, talks to (hitting coach Chris Valaika) before every at-bat. He hit that ball good.”
Guardians: Kwan received medical attention on his right hand after it got caught in the dirt on the steal in the first.
Twins: OF Max Kepler left the game after two innings with a right leg contusion. He fouled a ball off his leg in his lone at-bat. … RHP Chris Archer was placed on the injured list with right pectoral tightness. He left Saturday’s game after pitching two innings. … RHP Bailey Ober (right groin strain) made a rehab start for Triple-A St. Paul on Sunday and pitched 4 2/3 innings with one run allowed.
Guardians: LHP Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 3.99 ERA) will make the start Monday as Cleveland returns home against the Los Angeles Angels. LHP Reid Detmers (5-5, 3.67) is scheduled for Los Angeles.
Twins: After an off day, RHP Joe Ryan (10-8, 4.05) will start the series opener against Kansas City on Tuesday. The Royals will start LHP Kris Bubic (2-11, 5.40).
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports