CLEVELAND -- In keeping their wild-card hopes alive, the Minnesota Twins used an emergency starter and a first-inning ambush.
Trevor Plouffe's two-run home run capped a three-run first inning, and surprise starter Tommy Milone pitched into the sixth inning as the Twins beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 Monday night at Progressive Field.
The win keeps the Twins squarely in the hunt for the second wild-card spot in the American League. They began the game 1 1/2 games behind Houston for the second wild-card spot.
Cleveland's wild-card hopes are fading. The Indians began the night four games behind Houston.
Left-hander Milone (9-5) pitched into the sixth inning to get the win. He gave up two runs on four hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Right-hander Kevin Jepsen pitched the ninth to pick up his 14th save.
Indians right-hander Corey Kluber, the 2014 American League Cy Young Award winner, gave up four runs in six innings, as his record falls to 8-16. That's the most losses by a Cleveland pitcher since Greg Swindell went 9-16 in 1991. Kluber's 16 losses are the most by a pitcher the year after winning the AL Cy Young Award since Frank Viola went 13-17 in 1989 after winning the Cy Young Award for the Twins in 1988.
Milone replaced scheduled starter Phil Hughes, who was scratched due to illness.
"My hat goes off to Tommy," said Twins manager Paul Molitor. "He gets late notice he's going to pitch, it's near the end of the season, he hasn't pitched in a while, and he's facing Kluber. All those things, but he went out and did his job."
Milone struck out four and did not walk a batter. In six career starts vs. Cleveland, Milone is 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA.
"He throws his changeup in any count, any time, and we tried to do too much with it, which plays right into his hands. That's what he wants you to do," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
Trailing 4-1, Cleveland scored a run in the sixth inning, which began with a triple off the wall in center field by second baseman Jason Kipnis. Shortstop Francisco Lindor's groundout to short scored Kipnis to cut the Minnesota lead to 4-2, but that's as close as the Indians got.
Minnesota scored three runs in the first inning after Kluber retired the first two batters of the game. With two outs and nobody on, first baseman Joe Mauer doubled off the wall in left field. Designated hitter Miguel Sano also doubled off the wall in left, scoring Mauer with the first run of the game.
Third baseman Plouffe then belted his 22nd home run of the year, a two-run blast over the left-field wall on a 1-1 count, giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.
"It was kind of a two-out ambush," said Molitor.
"Our plan was to be aggressive and not let him get ahead in the count because then he can go to his off-speed stuff," said Plouffe of Kluber. "On the home run he threw me a cutter and I was able to put a nice swing on it."
The Indians got a run back in the bottom of the first when Lindor hit his 11th home run into the left-field bleachers.
The Twins made it 4-1 in the fourth inning with a rally that began with a leadoff double by left fielder Eddie Rosario, who had three of the Twins' eight hits. Rosario went to third on a fly out to right field by right fielder Torii Hunter. Second baseman Brian Dozier's sacrifice fly scored Rosario with the Twins' fourth run.
After the first inning, Kluber held the Twins to one run on four hits in his last five innings.
"In the first inning, I left some balls up and they came out swinging and took advantage of it," Kluber said.
NOTES: RHP Phil Hughes, the Twins' scheduled starter, was a late scratch due to a virus that has been working its way through the Twins' clubhouse. LHP Tommy Milone started in place of Hughes. ... Twins 2B Brian Dozier has 39 doubles. Dozier needs one more to become the third Twins' second baseman to reach 40 doubles, joining Chuck Knoblauch (45 in 1994) and Todd Walker (41 in 1998). ... With seven home games remaining in the season, the Indians have a chance to finish with a better winning percentage on the road (.518) than at home (.472) for the first time since 2005. ... Indians 1B Carlos Santana has 80 RBIs. His career high is 85, set last year.