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Crisp makes key plays, hits as Indians stay hot

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Coco Crisp did everything except heap
superlatives upon himself and the streaking Cleveland Indians.

Crisp homered, drove in the go-ahead run and made a key catch at
the outfield wall to help Cleveland beat the Minnesota Twins 7-5
Saturday night and open a 1½-game lead in the AL wild-card race.

"We know this is a big series for us, maybe more for the Twins,
but they're still a very good ballclub that's just been hurt by
injuries," Crisp said after Cleveland moved 7½ games ahead of the
three-time defending AL Central champions.

"We might be seven or so up on them, but we're still seven or
eight in back of the White Sox, so we've still got work to do."

Scott Elarton (9-7) allowed two runs and six hits in eight
innings for Cleveland, which overcame deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to
extend its winning streak to six. It is the third six-game streak
since Aug. 1 for the Indians, who have won 17 of 22 to surge ahead
of the New York Yankees and Oakland in the chase for the wild-card
berth.

"This team has continued to evolve," Indians manager Eric
Wedge said. "We're playing with confidence, but you really can't
compare now to April. It just doesn't go from A to Z like that.
There's a lot that's gone into it."

Cleveland has recovered from a 9-14 record on May 1 to win 81
games -- one more than all of last season -- with 20 to play.

Minnesota has lost four of five. The Twins' Shannon Stewart was
ejected at the start of the bottom of the eighth by first base
umpire Paul Schrieber for continuing to argue a close play in which
he was called out in the top half.

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said Stewart simply showed the
team's disappointment.

"He busted his butt down the line," Gardenhire said. "He was
out. Shannon probably talked a little too much. It's frustration."

The Twins trailed 7-2 before pinch-hitter Justin Morneau's
three-run homer off David Riske with two outs in the ninth. Bob
Wickman struck out Juan Castro for his 39th save in 44 chances.

"It's another disappointing loss for us," Gardenhire said.
"The guys are battling. We've got to win games and we're going to
try as hard as we can. I expect this team to go out full bore and
win. We'll never stop trying to do that."

Crisp hit his 13th homer in the third for Cleveland's first run
and drove in the go-ahead run in a two-run sixth off Scott Baker
(1-2), who gave up four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in 5
1-3 innings.

Ben Broussard and Aaron Boone drew one-out walks in the sixth,
and Casey Blake followed with a bloop single just in front of
diving center fielder Lew Ford, loading the bases.

Reliever J.C. Romero struck out Grady Sizemore, but Crisp beat
out a bouncing ball between third and shortstop for an RBI infield
single and 3-2 lead. Castro made a diving stop on the ball and
without getting to his feet tried to throw out the speedy Crisp.
Instead, the third baseman threw wide of the bag for an error that
scored Boone.

"Actually, I thought I could drive that ball and didn't, but
getting two runs on the play is a great outcome," Crisp said.

Cleveland added three runs in the seventh on Boone's sacrifice
fly and RBI singles by Blake and Sizemore.

Stewart hit an RBI double in the third, and the Twins took a 2-1
lead in the fifth on Nick Punto's sacrifice fly. Jhonny Peralta's
21st homer tied it 2-all in the bottom half.

Crisp in the third and Sizemore in the fourth made leaping
catches against the outfield wall to take away extra-base hits from
Ford and Jacque Jones.

"Both plays were big and getting three double plays helped,
too," Wedge said.

Game notes
Twins C Joe Mauer sat out with a bruised right shoulder
after being hit with a foul tip Friday night. ... Cleveland has the
best record in the majors since July 31, going 27-10 (.730). ...
Over the last 10 games, Cleveland starters are 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA.
... RHP Travis Bowyer and C Chris Heintz made their major league
debuts for Minnesota.