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Triple-play, Byrd, bats help Tribe beat Twins

CLEVELAND – Paul Byrd beat Minnesota once again, Victor Martinez homered and the Cleveland Indians turned a triple play in slowing the Twins’ climb in the AL Central with an 8-3 win last night.

Byrd (13-5) allowed three runs in six innings to move to 4-0 this season and 10-3 in his career against the Twins.

The first-place Indians, who will spend most of the final month on the road, began the night 2 1/2 games ahead of Detroit. They opened a 6 1/2-game lead over the Twins, who had won a season-high five straight.

Byrd had just left the game with a four-run lead when the Indians turned their first triple play since 1992 – and first in Cleveland since tripling up the Twins in 1976.

With runners at first and second, Indians reliever Rafael Perez came on and got Mike Redmond to hit a hard grounder to third baseman Casey Blake, who fielded it and quickly stepped on the bag.

Blake then threw to second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera, whose relay to first baseman Victor Martinez easily beat the slow-footed Twins catcher.

It was Cleveland’s first triple play since Aug. 7, 1992, at Baltimore, and the club’s first triple play on a grounder since May 23, 1981, at New York. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the third triple play of the season. The Philadelphia Phillies did it on April 21 at Cincinnati, and eight days later, Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki turned an unassisted one against Atlanta.

Jason Bartlett homered for the Twins.

Byrd improved to 6-1 in his last eight starts, with three of those wins coming against Minnesota. The 36-year-old, who went just 10-9 last season, has the second-most wins of his career – four shy of matching his total with Kansas City in 2002.

For some reason, the Indians have hit for Byrd, something they haven’t always done for C.C. Sabathia or Fausto Carmona. Cleveland came in averaging 5.46 runs in games started by the right-hander.

Martinez hit a two-run homer in the third off Carlos Silva (10-13). Kelly Shoppach and Travis Hafner each added two RBIs for the Indians, who scored their most runs at home since July 27, when Byrd beat the Twins 10-4.

The three-game series was originally scheduled to begin today. But it was moved up one day to allow the Indians to squeeze in a makeup date with the Seattle Mariners, whose season-opening, four-game visit to Cleveland in April was postponed by heavy snow.

The Indians scored four runs in the fourth to open a 7-0 lead and chase Silva, who didn’t go back to the dugout quietly.

Following two singles and a sacrifice, Shoppach, stuck in a 4-for-48 slide, hit a two-run double to make it 5-0. Grady Sizemore walked, and with two outs, Hafner grounded a two-run single to center.

That brought out Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, who pulled Silva for reliever Julio DePaula. After leaving the game, Silva gestured toward his infielders and spent a few moments in deep conservation with Gardenhire before heading to the clubhouse.

Martinez, who has devoured Silva throughout his career, gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the third with his 20th homer.

Hafner singled with two outs and Martinez followed by driving an 0-1 pitch over the wall in right-center. Martinez is batting .452 (14-for-31) with four homers and 13 RBIs against Silva.

Notes: Cleveland’s starters, who have had more than their share of quality outings wasted by the Indians’ offensive troubles, entered the series second in the majors with 811 innings pitched. Only the Boston Red Sox (811 1-3 innings) have gotten more out of their starters. … Twins C Joe Mauer missed his second straight game with a strained left hamstring. … Bartlett has six multihit games in his last seven. He is 16-for-31 (.516) in the sizzling stretch.

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