Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion continues to swing a hot bat, and it is leading to victories for the Cleveland Indians.
Encarnacion went three for four with two runs scored, two home runs and five RBI in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Twins (34-33) at Target Field Sunday, which allowed the Indians (36-31) to complete the four-game sweep and build a two-game lead in the American League Central Division.
Encarnacion has six home runs in his last 10 games.
It was the third straight game in which the Indians had a player hit two home runs in the same game, a first for the club since Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome alternated multi-homer games in four consecutive outings during the 2000 season.
The Indians last had a four-game sweep of the Twins at Minnesota over the final weekend of the 2013 regular season, when they needed all of those victories to secure the top American League Wildcard Playoff spot.
The Indians had plenty of opportunities to score runs early in the series finale, but could not come through with a run-producing hit over the first three innings of the game, but courtesy of the home run, they got on the scoreboard in their fourth trip to the plate.
With one out in the top of the fourth inning, Encarnacion belted a solo home run, his 15th round-tripper of the year.
Then, in the top of the sixth inning, third baseman Jose Ramirez drew a lead-off walk from Twins starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, and one batter later, Encarnacion smashed a 1-1 offering into the second deck of seats in left field.
Encarnacion drove in the fourth Indians run of the game when he singled to left field off of Twins reliever Tyler Duffey and brought around second baseman Jason Kipnis with one out in the top of the seventh inning.
Kipnis struck out swinging, but hustled down the first-base line and reached safely when the wild pitch from Duffey caromed away from Minnesota catcher Chris Gimenez. Kipnis moved into scoring possession when Ramirez smacked a single to right field.
The Twins got a pair of runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Shortstop Eduardo Escobar doubled to left field and drove in first baseman Kennys Vargas, who was hit by a pitch from Indians starter Trevor Bauer earlier in the frame. Then, Escobar came around to score when left fielder Eddie Rosario singled to center field.
Encarnacion added a fifth RBI when he drove in Ramirez with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field off of Twins reliever Brandon Kintzler in the top of the ninth inning. Ramirez was on base with a double to the wall in left-center field and stole third base to set up the Indians’ fifth run of the game.
Bauer (6-5) scattered four hits and two runs with two walks over seven innings of work against the Twins, whom he has defeated in all three of his starts against Minnesota this season. Bauer struck out eight Twins hitters on the way to the victory.
Reliever Cody Allen worked a hitless, scoreless eighth inning, and left-hander fire-baller Andrew Miller earned his first save of the season by working his way around a one-out walk to Vargas in the ninth.
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