MINNEAPOLIS -- Desperately needing a win to keep their fading postseason hopes alive, the Cleveland Indians turned to rookie Cody Anderson to be their stopper.
Anderson did just that, allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings as the Indians won 6-3 over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Thursday.
By salvaging the final game of a three-game series, Cleveland moved within 2 1/2 games of Minnesota in the American League wild-card standings and within four games of the idle Houston Astros for the second wild-card spot.
"He continues to learn and get better," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I thought he did really well. He doesn't get flustered and he's certainly not scared. He competes like nobody's business and we're seeing him get better right in front of our eyes. It's kind of fun."
Staked to a three-run lead after one and a six-run lead through three, Anderson attacked Twins hitters early. He allowed 10 hits but walked none, winning his fourth consecutive start. Over those four games, Anderson has posted a minuscule 1.38 ERA.
"Just trying to get the guys in the dugout as fast as possible," Anderson said of pitching with the lead. "Pound the ball down in the zone and get some ground balls. It's a good feeling."
Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor had three hits. Designated hitter Carlos Santana hit a three-run home run, and second baseman Jason Kipnis hit a solo shot.
After Indians reliever Bryan Shaw gave up two runs in 1 1/3 innings, closer Cody Allen threw a perfect ninth inning for his 32nd save.
Right fielder Torii Hunter hit a solo homer and left fielder Eddie Rosario had a two-run blast to pace the Twins, who had won three in a row. Minnesota, which finished its 10-game homestand at 4-6, is 1 1/2 games behind the Astros.
Cleveland hammered Twins starter Kyle Gibson, knocking the right-hander from the game before he could get through three innings.
Kipnis got things going early, hitting the third pitch of the game over the wall in left field for his ninth homer of the season and fourth leadoff shot.
A walk by third baseman Jose Ramirez and a single by Lindor got two more runners on, and both moved into scoring position on a comebacker to the mound that bounced off Gibson's leg.
With two outs in the inning, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall dribbled a single through the hole between first and second, scoring both Ramirez and Lindor for a 3-0 lead after a half-inning.
"It felt good, even when (Kipnis) got his leadoff home run, it felt good just to get on the scoreboard first," Francona said. "We stayed after them a little bit which is good."
Minnesota had a chance to get back into the game in the bottom half of the inning, getting a leadoff double from center fielder Aaron Hicks and an infield single from second baseman Brian Dozier. But first baseman Joe Mauer's fly ball to center wasn't deep enough to score Hicks, as Abraham Almonte gunned him down at the plate with a strong throw.
"I thought it was big. You're trying to get right back in the game after giving up three," Twins skipper Paul Molitor said. "You try to stay aggressive early in the game, but the guy made the play."
Gibson (10-11) breezed through a 1-2-3 second inning but didn't survive the third, allowing a leadoff double to Ramirez and a single by Lindor before the big blow; a three-run blast by Santana that gave Cleveland a six-run lead.
Catcher Yan Gomes followed with a single before a two-out walk to Almonte ended Gibson's night. He was charged with all six runs in 2 2/3 innings. Gibson walked two with struck out five.
The start was the shortest of the season for Gibson, who went 3 2/3 innings in his first start of the season on April 9. It was just the third time in 31 starts this season that he did not last at least five innings.
"I didn't have a feel for anything, honestly," Gibson said. "Just wasn't executing pitches. Other than the second inning, that was the case tonight."
Hunter's solo shot in the seventh was the only damage allowed by Anderson.
"But when you're up six, you'd rather see that than him walking guys," Francona said.
Rosario's two-run shot with two outs in the eighth was his 12th and got the Twins within striking distance but Minnesota could not get another runner on base.
NOTES: Indians LF Michael Brantley missed his second game in a row with a right shoulder injury. He is day-to-day. ... The Twins started the same lineup for the third consecutive game. It was the first time this season they did that. ... Twins LHP Tommy Milone threw 12 pitches in a bullpen session and did not experience a setback. He will throw again in a day or two, according to general manager Terry Ryan, and could return by the end of the season. Milone has missed one start with fatigue in his throwing shoulder. ... The Indians continue their road trip Friday when they open a three-game series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. ... The Twins hit the road for their final trip of the season beginning Friday against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.