CLEVELAND -- With their postseason hopes riding on every pitch, the Minnesota Twins produced one of their most dramatic and important victories of the year Thursday night.
After giving up the lead late, the Twins rallied to score two unearned runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 at Progressive Field.
"There were a few twists and turns along the way, but we found a way to regroup," said Twins manager Paul Molitor.
With one out in the top of the ninth, and the score tied at 2-2, third baseman Trevor Plouffe reached first on an error by second baseman Jose Ramirez. Eduardo Nunez, pinch running for Plouffe, went to third on a single by left fielder Eddie Rosario off right-hander Cody Allen (2-5). Rosario advanced to second on the throw to third.
Allen then threw a wild pitch, allowing Nunez to score, and Rosario to go to third as the Twins took a 3-2 lead.
"Cody was going for the strikeout and he bounced it. I tried to block it but it got away," said catcher Roberto Perez.
Right fielder Torii Hunter's sacrifice fly drove in Rosario with an insurance run that made it a 4-2 Twins lead.
It was a critical victory for the Twins, who are now one game behind idle Houston for the second wild card.
The Twins now go home to host Kansas City in their last three games of the regular season.
"We look forward to going home and playing the division winner. It's going to be challenging," said Molitor.
With the Twins leading 1-0, right-hander Tyler Duffey struck out the first batter of the bottom of the seventh inning, right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall. Center fielder Abraham Almonte singled to center.
Perez then pounded a pitch over the center field wall for his seventh home run, a two-run blast that gave the Indians 2-1 lead.
"I knew right away it was gone. He hit it pretty good. I'm just glad we got out of it with a win," said Duffy.
"I hit it well. I thought it would be a double, but it went out. It surprised me," Perez said.
That 2-1 Cleveland lead didn't last long. Right-hander Bryan Shaw relieved right-hander Trevor Bauer to start the eighth inning. Shaw retired the first batter, but pinch hitter Danny Santana drew a walk.
Shortstop Eduardo Escobar slapped a double down the left field line, scoring Santana. Second baseman Brian Dozier reached on an infield single, with Escobar moving to third.
Allen, Cleveland's closer, was summoned to pitch to first baseman Joe Mauer. Allen got Mauer to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Bauer made his first start since Sept. 13. Because of a prolonged slump, he was removed from the rotation and sent to the bullpen, where he made one relief appearance. In four September appearances, Bauer was 1-2 with a 9.49 ERA.
He was much better than those numbers Thursday. Bauer pitched seven innings, allowing one run on two hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
"He was really good. He threw a lot of good fastballs down and away. It's good to see him go out on a positive note," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona.
Duffy pitched 6 1/3 innings, giving up two runs on six hits with six strikeouts and one walk.
"We put a lot of pressure on him, trying to make a 1-0 lead stand up on October 1," Molitor said. "We were holding our breath every inning."
Bauer held the Twins scoreless and hitless through the first three innings.
The Twins broke a scoreless tie with a run in the fourth. With one out, Mauer doubled off the wall in left field and scored on a double by Plouffe.
NOTES: 3B Giovanny Urshela was in the Indians' starting lineup Thursday. It was Urshela's first appearance in a game since Sept. 17. He was sidelined with a sore right shoulder. ... Indians RHP Cody Anderson, who was 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA in six September starts, is the first rookie in the majors to win five games in September since RHP Anibal Sanchez was 5-1 for the Marlins in 2006. ... Twins 2B Brian Dozier went into Thursday's game with 145 strikeouts, tying him with Bobby Darwin (1972) for the most in Twins history. ... RHP Ervin Santana will start Friday night for the Twins against Kansas City. In his last six starts, Santana is 5-0 with a 1.47 ERA.