MINNEAPOLIS -- The night was hot and the air was thick, and Fausto Carmona didn't care. He needed to take his time, between every pitch, and carefully focus on each throw.
The Indians were more than happy to let the big right-hander work whatever way he wanted to.
Lou Marson hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the seventh inning and Cleveland completed a doubleheader sweep with a 6-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night, starting this important four-game series with a pair of victories at sweltering Target Field.
"It was well worth it, all the heat and all the hours at the ballpark," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Marson also doubled and scored in the fifth against Scott Diamond, who turned in a decent major league debut for the Twins but took the defeat. Carmona (5-10) came off the disabled list and won for only the second time in his last 12 starts, beating the heat to finish six innings with two runs allowed.
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Returning from a strained right quadriceps muscle, the former All-Star took a big step toward turning around his so-far disappointing season.
"He's a guy with great stuff," said teammate Travis Hafner, who had two hits and two RBI in the second game. "He's one of the leaders on this team, so if he can pitch well it's a huge boost for our club."
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run homer to lift the Indians to a 5-2 win in the matinee and added an RBI single in the nightcap. Michael Brantley finished with five hits, three in the evening, on one of those days when scorecards worked better as personal fans and faces glistened in sweat.
That included Carmona, who changed his cap and shirt between each inning.
"Yeah," he said. "Very hot."
Despite the discomfort, Carmona was determined to take his time between pitches. Acta said he was concerned at first by the heat, but reassurance from pitching coach Tim Belcher helped the manager relax.
"We left him alone," Acta said, "and it worked for him."
After climbing Sunday as close to the AL Central lead as they'd been since April 26, five games back, the Twins took a tumble on one tough day -- falling to seven games behind the Indians.
"It's a long day," said Joe Mauer, who had three hits in each game. "A little longer when you lose."
Carmona picked up where David Huff (1-0) left off in the opener. Carmona allowed seven hits, struck out one and walked none, helping the Indians reassert themselves atop the division and cool off the surging Twins, who were 20 games under .500 at the beginning of June.
"We know that these guys are going to be in it. The title runs through Minnesota," Acta said. "They've got their hitting machine back."
Mauer is batting .393 (22 for 56) in July, raising his average from .213 to .290.
Carrera later scored on a single by Hafner, the first and only batter faced by Phil Dumatrait. Diamond left the mound to a standing ovation, tipping his cap in appreciation after smiling upon being congratulated by manager Ron Gardenhire.
The Twins couldn't have expected too much more from their fill-in starters. Anthony Swarzak, summoned from the bullpen for the opener, pitched six innings, giving up four runs, three earned. An error by second baseman Alexi Casilla led to one score in Cleveland's four-run fourth and Cabrera's three-run shot capped the big inning.
Similar to the matinee, the Twins were not sharp enough in the field or clutch enough at the plate in the nightcap to get Diamond a win in his first game. The left-hander lasted 6 1/3 innings and was charged with four runs, three earned, and seven hits.
Diamond had two outs in the fifth when Marson doubled and scored on a first-pitch single by Brantley, right after a visit to the mound by Mauer and pitching coach Rick Anderson. Cabrera's RBI single drove in the No. 9 hitter Carrera, who walked after Marson, to give the Indians a 2-1 edge.
Valencia's homer tied it up again in the sixth and Trevor Plouffe also went deep in the ninth, but the damage was done in between.
Huff fared better as a stopgap starter for the Indians, pitching seven shutout innings in his first major league appearance this season after coming up from Triple-A Columbus.
- Cabrera leads the Indians with 17 homers and 59 RBI.