Liriano fanned 10 in five innings as the Twins tied a 40-year-old team record with 17 strikeouts overall in a 3-1 win over the struggling Indians Sunday.
"Seventeen?" said Indians first baseman Victor Martinez. "No, not that many. It was only one guy for five innings."
"That many?" said catcher Kelly Shoppach after Cleveland failed to get at least 10 hits for the first time in six games. "Liriano was really tough, but give them all credit because this team can hit."
The 17 strikeouts set a Cleveland team record for a nine-inning game, one more than the Indians had June 4, 2004, at St. Louis. The total tied the Twins' record for pitchers set May 6, 1966, at Boston.
Liriano (12-2) gave up one run and four hits while walking three. It was his third double-digit strikeout game this season as Minnesota rebounded from its first loss in nine games.
The Twins improved to 9-3 after the All-Star break and 31-8 since June 8. Cleveland, which had accumulated 10 or more hits in each of its five previous games, fell to 4-11 since July 4.
Liriano lowered his ERA to 1.93 and avenged a July 13 home loss to the Indians. The hard-throwing lefty gave up four earned runs -- and three homers -- over five innings that day in 6-4 loss. Cleveland has the only five earned runs Liriano has allowed in his last five starts, during which he has a 1.37 ERA.
"I was throwing more fastballs, my pitches were working better, and I was throwing inside more," said Liriano about adjusting against Cleveland, which entered the game averaging 5.5 runs, second-best in the majors.
He has been one of the few consistent bright spots on the road for the Twins this season. Minnesota is just 19-30 away from home, where Liriano is 7-1 with a 2.22 ERA.
The Twins bullpen allowed only two hits. Nathan fanned two in the ninth for his 19th save in 20 chances.
"The bullpen did a super, super job," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "Neshek came in and threw very well. Somebody had to bridge that gap to get to the later innings."
The Twins took a 3-0 lead in the third against Jake Westbrook (7-6).
"Never should have happened," said Indians rightfielder Casey Blake. "Jake pitched his butt off and should have won, 1-0. We've got to quit giving teams extra outs."
Jason Tyner blooped a bunt over the Westbrook's head to start the odd rally. One out later, he was erased on a fielder's choice before Nick Punto beat out a two-out bunt for another single.
"I've been thinking about that first bunt since it happened," said Westbrook. "I came in slightly, then saw it go up and gave up on it. I'm still second-guessing myself."
Both runners advanced on a passed ball by Shoppach on the first pitch to Joe Mauer -- who was then intentionally walked to load the bases. Michael Cuddyer followed with a slow grounder up the middle that shortstop Jhonny Peralta fielded behind the second-base bag, but bobbled before throwing to first.
"That's a play that should be made," Indians manager Eric Wedge said.
Cuddyer got credit for an RBI single, then Justin Morneau grounded a two-run single just to the right of Peralta to make it 3-0.
The Indians broke through with a two-out rally in the fifth. Shoppach singled, Grady Sizemore walked and Jason Michaels followed with an RBI single to left to make it 3-1.
Cleveland had threatened in the fourth. After the first two batters went down swinging -- making it six straight strikeouts for Liriano -- Victor Martinez doubled into the left-field corner and Casey Blake walked. But Liriano struck out Peralta.
Westbrook allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, walking three and striking out four.
- The Twins are 63-1 when leading after eight innings. Since the start of the 2003 season, they are 257-3 in that situation.
- Punto went 2-for-4, extending his career-high hitting streak to 15 games. He has hit .393 (35-for-89) over his last 23 games.
- Sizemore is hitting .500 (14-for-28) over an eight-game hitting streak.