CLEVELAND -- No amount of adversity seems to discourage the Twins.
One day after Minnesota lost rookie sensation Francisco Liriano for the season, Torii Hunter and Rondell White homered on consecutive pitches in the eighth inning Thursday night to help the surging Twins pull within one game of first place with a 9-4 win over the Cleveland Indians.
"We could have hung our heads, but we kept on truckin' and won," Hunter said after driving in four runs to help the Twins to their sixth victory in seven games.
Minnesota moved two games ahead of the Chicago White Sox in the wild-card race and one game behind the faltering Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. The last time Minnesota was only one game back was the second day of the season, April 5.
"We got a little good news that it was nothing major with Liriano and that probably lifted us a bit," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "The guys were fired up."
General manager Terry Ryan said an MRI showed no structural damage to Liriano's left elbow, but added the Twins will be ultraconservative with the rookie, who went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA. "We have to find out why he's having pain," Ryan said. "We're not going to mess around with his future."
"After spending four months trying to get back into this thing we weren't going to let one inning kill us," right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "We knew we had a few innings to work our way back, and we did."
Despite going only 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position and stranding a season-high 16 against nine Cleveland pitchers, the Twins improved to 36-36 on the road. Minnesota, with baseball's best home record at 50-24, plays its next nine games on the road.
"We left guys on base, so what?" Hunter said. "We won. That's good news."
Hunter and White each had three of Minnesota's 15 hits. Both spent time on the disabled list earlier this season for the Twins, who also have been without leadoff hitter and left fielder Shannon Stewart since mid-July.
"We won't worry about what we can't control," Gardenhire said. "We're playing good baseball, we're relaxed and having fun. Baseball is supposed to be fun."
Hunter hit a two-run homer, his 25th, and White hit the next pitch from Fernando Cabrera to nearly the same spot in the left-field bleachers for his seventh homer and an 8-4 lead.
Cuddyer had a bases-loaded walk for his 100th RBI and Justin Morneau followed with a fielder's choice RBI in the sixth to put the Twins up 4-1.
Cuddyer and Morneau, who has 121 RBI, are the ninth set of Twins in team history to drive in 100 or more runs in the same season and first since Paul Molitor and Marty Cordova did it in 1996.
Minnesota made it 2-1 in the fifth against reliever Brian Sikorski. Morneau singled and scored on a one-out double to left by White, who went 3-for-5.
Victor Martinez's RBI single off Twins starter Boof Bonser put Cleveland ahead 1-0 in the first.
The Twins tied it in the third against Indians starter Cliff Lee. Morneau hit a two-out double and scored on Hunter's sharp single.
Lee threw 102 pitches in only four innings, allowing one run and five hits.
"I was making quality pitches, but they kept fouling them off and the pitches added up," Lee said.
Bonser gave up three runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out six.
Hunter added an RBI double in the ninth.
- Twins C Joe Mauer drew his 20th intentional walk, tying Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew (1969) for second-most in team history. Killebrew had 23 in 1970.
- Marte has hit .313 (25-for-80) with 16 RBI in his last 23 games.
- White has batted .310 with seven homers and 18 RBI in his past 32 games.