CLEVELAND (AP) – Cliff Lee won his seventh straight decision and the Cleveland Indians hit for the cycle on the first nine pitches they saw in a 12-4 rout of the Minnnesota Twins on Sunday night, stretching their winning streak to seven games.

Cleveland had 17 hits to win for the 18th time in 23 games and maintain its 1-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL wild-card race. The Indians also pulled within 5 games of first-place Chicago in the AL Central.

That’s the closest Cleveland has been to the White Sox since April 20. The Indians have gained 9 games on the leaders since being 15 back on July 25, going 31-12 during that stretch.

Coco Crisp tied a career high with four hits, Ronnie Belliard hit a three-run homer, Victor Martinez added a two-run shot, and Grady Sizemore had a solo homer among his three hits, three runs and three RBIs for Cleveland.

Lee (16-4), unbeaten in his last 11 starts, allowed two runs and four hits over six innings. He is 10-1 in 18 starts since June 6 and his .800 overall winning percentage trails only St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter (21-4, .840) in the majors.

Sizemore brought the fans to their feet, chanting “Grady, Grady,” with a leaping catch against the wall in center to rob pinch-hitter Luis Rodriguez of extra bases in the eighth.

Carlos Silva (9-8) left after one inning with a sore right knee, a condition he has battled all season and put him on the disabled list in April. He made only 18 pitches, yielding four hits and four runs in the shortest of his 61 career starts for Minnesota.

Sizemore tripled to center on Silva’s second pitch and Crisp lined the next one into the right-field corner for an RBI double. Crisp took third on a second-pitch single by Jhonny Peralta and scored on a sacrifice fly by Travis Hafner.

Martinez then lined a 1-1 pitch from Silva over the wall in center for his 19th homer and 4-0 lead.

Joe Mays fared worse in one inning of relief, giving up six runs in the second inning as the Twins trailed 10-0. Sizemore hit a two-run homer, his 19th, Hafner had an RBI single and Belliard capped the rally with a three-run shot, his 13th.

Peralta’s RBI single off Matt Guerrier made it 11-0 in the third.

Jacque Jones’ two-run homer in the fourth, his 20th, got the Twins within 11-2.

Sizemore singled home a run in the sixth and the Twins got two unearned runs in the seventh off Fernando Cabrera.

The three-game sweep sent the reeling Twins to their fifth loss in six games and dropped the three-time defending AL Central champions 15 games behind Chicago.

Notes: Indians starters are 7-1 with a 1.81 ERA over the last 11 games. … Cleveland won the season series, 10-9, including a 5-4 mark in one-run games. … Crisp’s four-hit game was his third this season and sixth of his career. … Twins C Chris Heintz made his first career start and got his first hit, a fifth-inning single. … A $5 ticket promotion swelled the crowd to 38,564 – more than 10,000 above average for the Indians, who rank 28th of 30 in major-league attendance.

AP-ES-09-11-05 2312EDT


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