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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published July 29 2012

Morneau homers as Twins sweep Indians

MINNEAPOLIS – Maybe the Minnesota Twins should wait until the night before to tell Brian Duensing he’s starting.

This short-notice outing sure went well.

Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer, Duensing threw six smooth innings as a late fill-in for Francisco Liriano and the Minnesota Twins finished a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians with a 5-1 victory on Sunday.

Duensing’s Twitter followers started asking him if he was starting after the Liriano trade was finalized late Saturday night with the Chicago White Sox. Weird, he thought. Well, he went to the team’s website and saw the news. Then he sent a text message to pitching coach Rick Anderson to confirm it.

“He said, ‘Yeah,’ and asked if I was OK with it,” Duensing said. “I’m not going to say no.”

Duensing (2-6) lost all four of his previous starts this year, but he needed only 70 pitches to finish six frames and yield to the bullpen after scattering five singles without a walk, giving up one run and striking out two.

“I think he kind of likes that: not preparing and just going out there and throwing the ball,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “I think he enjoyed that part of it. He did a really nice job.”

Ubaldo Jimenez (8-10) worked into the seventh and struck out six, but the Indians lost for the eighth time in their last 11 games. They were a season-high 5½ games out of first place in the AL Central when the game began, behind the Chicago White Sox. They haven’t been two games under .500 since mid-April.

“We came in here with high hopes to keep it going, and it wasn’t that way. We couldn’t do anything,” Jimenez said.

Duensing has a 3.12 ERA in 33 relief appearances in 2012, but he had struggled in the starter’s role, allowing 15 runs, 23 hits and five homers over 13 1-3 innings in his prior turns. But the Twins have refused to give up on him, believing his array of pitches is deep enough to work through several innings rather than just facing a handful of batters.

With Liriano gone and the starters a collective last in the league in ERA, the 29-year-old Duensing still has ample room to carve out a permanent place for him in Minnesota’s starting five.

“I’d like to be a starter, but I don’t feel like I’m in a spot to go in there and demand it or anything,” Duensing said.

This was the third series sweep this year by the Twins, who outscored the Indians 28-6 and are batting .325 with 18 homers in their last 13 home games.

“Definitely a good feeling, coming out of Chicago where we just got swept,” Denard Span said, adding: “It starts with starting pitching. They give us an opportunity offensively to do some things. We can be aggressive on the base paths.”

Cleveland Minnesota

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Choo rf 4 0 0 0 Span cf 3 1 1 0

ACarer ss 4 1 1 0 Revere rf 4 1 2 2

CSantn dh 3 0 0 0 Mauer dh 4 0 0 0

JoLopz 3b 4 0 1 0 Wlngh lf 3 1 0 0

Brantly cf 4 0 1 0 Mornea 1b 4 1 3 2

Duncan lf 4 0 2 1 Doumit c 3 0 0 0

Marson c 3 0 0 0 Valenci 3b 4 0 0 0

Ktchm 1b 3 0 0 0 Dozier ss 4 1 2 0

Lillirdg 2b 3 0 1 0 ACasill 2b 2 0 0 0

Totals 32 1 6 1 Totals 31 5 8 4

Cleveland 000 100 000— 1

Minnesota 000 210 20x— 5

DP—Minnesota 1. LOB—Cleveland 5, Minnesota 6. 2B—Revere (10). HR—Morneau (13). SB—Span (11), Revere 2 (24), Dozier 2 (8). S—A.Casilla.

IP H R ER BB SO

Cleveland

Jimenez L,8-10 6Zc 6 5 5 3 6

Sipp 1Xc 2 0 0 0 0

Minnesota

Duensing W,2-6 6 5 1 1 0 2

Al.Burnett H,7 1 0 0 0 0 0

Burton 1 1 0 0 0 0

Perkins 1 0 0 0 1 0

WP—Jimenez. Balk—Jimenez.

T—2:28. A—34,720 (39,500).