CLEVELAND -- For evidence that the Twins and Indians are moving in opposite directions, look no further than Tuesday night's game at Progressive Field.
The Twins rallied from four runs back, including a one-run deficit in the ninth, scoring three runs in the final inning off closer Chris Perez to hand the Indians their 11th straight loss with a 7-5 win.
It was the Twins' ninth win over their last 12 games and moved them just one game back of the Indians for third place in the American League Central despite trailing the Indians by 9 1/2 games before Cleveland's 11-game skid started on July 27.
"It's kind of how our season's gone -- we were down pretty good and we haven't given up," said Glen Perkins, who tossed a scoreless ninth to pick up his seventh save. "We were down 5-1 tonight and we just kept playing. We got a little help obviously, but we put guys on and put pressure on them. It's been working out. It's exciting."
Minnesota entered the ninth down by a run, but Perez couldn't end the Indians' recent drought. Josh Willingham started it with a one-out single before being removed for pinch-runner Darin Mastroianni, who promptly stole second base.
Morneau then hit a hard chopper to first base that Casey Kotchman couldn't handle, allowing Mastroianni to score from second. Ryan Doumit followed up with a double before Tsuyoshi Nishioka brought home the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly to left field. Brian Dozier capped the scoring with a bloop RBI single.
"It's an unacceptable performance," said Perez, who blew his fourth save. "It's coming at the worst time for us as a club. We've just got to fight through it. That's the only thing you can do. The games aren't going away off the schedule. We've got to keep playing and try to turn this thing around. I'm not getting off the horse."
The ninth-inning comeback came after the Twins rallied for three runs in the seventh inning, with two of those runs coming on a crucial error by second baseman Jason Kipnis. Ben Revere brought home the first run with an RBI groundout before Kipnis made an error on a grounder hit by Morneau with the bases loaded and two outs. The grounder went right between Kipnis' legs and scored two runs to bring the Twins within one run.
"You have a couple things bounce your way," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The one off of first and another one through the second baseman. Morneau crushed it, but we got some breaks. We kept battling, which I like about this ballclub."
The win came despite a subpar outing from right-hander Samuel Deduno. Deduno has had trouble with his control this season, but still entered the game with a 2.48 ERA in five starts.
Deduno, though, struggled against the Indians, allowing four runs on five hits and five walks over four innings. He also hit a batter and struck out three. He's now issued 25 walks in 34 innings this year.
"When I had to throw a good pitch, I didn't make it today," Deduno said. "Physically and mentally I feel pretty good, but today I didn't make any good pitches."
His control ended up hurting him in the first, as he hit the first batter he faced in Kipnis, who came around to score on an RBI groundout from Shin-Soo Choo after Asdrubal Cabrera singled.
He gave up three runs in the second inning with two runs coming on a two-run blast from Shelley Duncan. Cabrera brought home the other run with a single after Jack Hannahan singled and Kipnis walked.
The Twins were mostly held in check by rookie right-hander Corey Kluber, who gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits over six-plus innings to give Cleveland its first quality start since July 26.
Minnesota scored first with a run in the opening frame on an RBI single from Morneau to score Revere, who extended his hit streak to 21 games with a single and advanced to second on a walk from Joe Mauer.
The bullpen fared well after Deduno exited, as Jeff Manship was the only reliever to give up a run, when he gave up an RBI double to Carlos Santana in the sixth. Left-hander Tyler Robertson pitched two scoreless innings to pick up his first career victory.
"Our bullpen did a nice job," Gardenhire said. "Robertson did a really nice job out there coming in and settling everything down."