CLEVELAND -- Johan Santana took a no-hit bid into the sixth inning, but the Twins still needed a late run to break a five-game losing streak.
Santana struck out 12 over seven innings and Brian Buscher hit a go-ahead groundball in the ninth as Minnesota beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 on Saturday night.
"Santana was super and we got a much-needed win," manager Ron Gardenhire said, one night after blasting his team for poor play in a 10-4 loss. "This one felt better. Santana was fantastic."
Torii Hunter doubled off Joe Borowski (2-4) to open the ninth and took third on Jason Kubel's groundout. Rondell White was hit in the left side with a 3-2 pitch and replaced by pinch runner Lew Ford, who broke for second on a 1-0 pitch that Buscher hit to second baseman Mike Rouse.
"We put the runner in motion because we needed to make something happen," Gardenhire said. "It worked."
Rouse's high throw home went off catcher Victor Martinez's glove as Hunter slid in with the eventual winning run, the Twins' first victory in five games on their six-game trip.
"A good throw gets him," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "It took Vic off (the plate) a little. The way the ball was hit, he had to come home."
Pat Neshek (6-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win and Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 21st save in 23 tries.
Santana had a no-hitter with two outs in the sixth. He gave up a career-high four homers his last time out, a 6-4 loss at Toronto on Monday, and is 1-2 in four starts since the All-Star break after going 40-4 following the breaks in 2003-06.
"People have talked about me not having my best stuff," Santana said. "I know what I need to do to help my team win, to come back. We did it last year. Hopefully, we'll start winning more games.
"What I wanted was to end our streak."
Martinez opened the Indians' seventh with a single for Cleveland's second hit. Then Travis Hafner tied the score at 2 with a long homer to right that brought the sellout crowd of 41,203 to its feet.
Santana struck out nine in a span of 11 batters from the second through fifth inning. The left-hander allowed two runs and four hits, walking one.
"He was pumping it in there against a good-hitting team," Gardenhire said. "You saw him turn it up a notch."
Franklin Gutierrez tried to end the no-hit bid by bunting to open the sixth. Santana made a diving stop on the ball and threw to first baseman Justin Morneau, who dropped it for an error.
"I was ready for a bunt and thought I made a good play," Santana said.
Two outs later, Grady Sizemore doubled into the right-field corner for Cleveland's first hit, sending Gutierrez to third. But Santana got Casey Blake on a fly out to right to end the threat and preserve a 2-0 lead.
It was the 36th time that Santana struck out 10 or more in a game.
Jason Tyner hit his first career homer in 1,220 at-bats to put the Twins ahead 1-0 in a two-run third against Indians starter Jake Westbrook. Tyner's homerless streak was the longest by an active player.
"We waited for that a long time," said Santana, who had told Tyner earlier this year that he would hit a homer in an interleague game before the light-hitting outfielder did.
"It was exciting," said Tyner, adding that he has hit balls harder. "Tonight, it was the right ball in the right park."
During the Twins rally, Martinez was staggered when hit in the face mask and left shoulder by the barrel of Jason Bartlett's broken bat. Plate umpire Laz Diaz tried to keep the All-Star catcher from tumbling over and trainer Lonnie Soloff quickly ran out to attend to Cleveland's leading hitter, who remained in the game.
One out later, Morneau singled home Castillo.
It was also a rough night for Twins third-base coach Scott Ullger, who watched the winning rally while sitting with an icepack on his face after being hit in the left jaw by a line drive in the bottom of the eighth off Blake's bat. Ullger was replaced in the coaching box for the ninth by bench coach Steve Liddle.
"I'm lucky," Ullger said, "but I'll be eating soup tomorrow. We won, so I guess I took one for the team."
Westbrook allowed two runs and four hits over seven innings, but remained winless in eight starts since beating Baltimore on April 27 for his only win in seven decisions this season.