CLEVELAND (AP) – Coco Crisp and Jhonny Peralta homered, and the Cleveland Indians rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins 7-5 Saturday night and open a 11/2-game lead in the AL wild-card race,

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. The Indians have won 17 of their last 22 games to surge ahead of the New York Yankees and Oakland in the chase for the wild-card berth.

Minnesota has lost four of five, falling 7 games back in the wild card. 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.

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.

Crisp homered in the third inning 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 allowed Boone.

Minnesota 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. Peralta’s homered tied it 2-all in the bottom half.

Notes: Twins C Joe Mauer sat out with a bruised right shoulder after being hit with a foul tip Friday night. … 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 . … Cleveland has the best record in the majors since July 31, going 27-10 (.730). … RHP Travis Bowyer and C Chris Heintz made their major league debuts for Minnesota.

AP-ES-09-10-05 2152EDT


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