Guardians beat Twins for 7th straight time, 5-1 behind Bieber

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CLEVELAND – Shane Bieber allowed one run over eight innings, Amed Rosario had four hits and the AL Central-leading Cleveland Guardians won their seventh in a row against the Minnesota Twins, 5-1 in a doubleheader opener on Saturday.

Jose Ramirez hit a solo homer on his 30th birthday and Owen Miller had a two-run double for Cleveland (78-66), which has won 10 of its last 12 games.

The Guardians opened a 4 1/2-game lead over the second-place Chicago White Sox (74-71) and a six-game margin ahead of the third-place Twins (72-72).

“When Shane pitches, it’s just a different feel because the innings roll by and it’s really fun to watch,” Miller said. “With him on the mound, he’s about as good as anyone. I’m glad we could get some runs for him.”

Bieber (11-8) won his third straight start, allowing four hits and walking none for the ninth time in 28 outings. The 2020 AL Cy Young winner matched his career-long streak of 10 consecutive quality starts.

“I’ve got to commend the entire offense because when they get us an early lead, it makes it a lot easier for the pitching staff and the defense,” Bieber said. “I found myself in cruise control in the middle innings. All in all, it was a good start to the doubleheader.”

Minnesota’s Matt Wallner homered in the eighth and went 1 for 3 with a walk in his big league debut, with his parents and fiancee in attendance. The 24-year-old was the 39th overall pick in the 2019 amateur draft and played in this year’s Futures Game.

“It was pretty cool to do it against Shane Bieber,” Wallner said, smiling. “That was the pitch to hit, so it was pretty fun.”

Cleveland is 12 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2019 season. The Guardians clinched the season series against the Twins by winning Friday’s opener of the rare five-game series.

Louie Varland (0-1), a 24-year-old right-hander, made his second big league appearance following his debut on Sept. 7. He gave up four runs and nine hits in five innings.

Reliever Aaron Sanchez allowed one run in three innings for Minnesota, which is 5-10 in September.

“It was an honor to pitch against Bieber,” Varland said. “For Matt to get his first hit, a home run off him, that’s awesome.”

Rosario had his fourth four-hit game of the season, including RBI singles in the third and sixth that helped build a 5-0 lead. Miller tacked on a two-run double in the fourth.

Ramirez homered in the first on a 421-foot drive to right, his 28th home run and 112th RBI. The All-Star moved into 11th place in franchise history with 191 homers.

“Ramirez is a great hitter,” Varland said. “Falling behind in the count to him is not something you want to do.”

Right-hander Josh Winder (4-4, 3.83 ERA) was to start the second game for Minnesota and left-hander Konnor Pilkington (1-2, 4.30 ERA) was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to start for Cleveland in his 10th big league stint this year.

REVOLVING ROSTER

Twins OF Max Kepler was placed on the 10-day IL with a sprained right wrist and Wallner was recalled from Triple-A St. Paul. Kepler, batting .227 with nine homers and 43 RBIs, had missed the previous four games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Twins: SS Jorge Polanco (left knee inflammation) was removed from the first game of his rehab assignment with St. Paul after experiencing soreness Friday against Louisville. Polanco, who went 1 for 2, is being examined in Minneapolis.

Guardians: RHP Zach Plesac (right hand fracture) threw a bullpen session at Progressive Field before the game, but a decision on his next baseball activity has not been made. Plesac has been on the IL since August 30.

UP NEXT

RHP Joe Ryan (11-8, 3.83) starts Sunday for Minnesota after throwing seven hitless innings against Kansas City on Tuesday and getting removed after 106 pitches in a 6-3 win. Rookie RHP Cody Morris (0-1, 2,79) starts for Cleveland.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.