MINNEAPOLIS -- Carl Pavano was cruising against the Indians through six scoreless innings, and the Twins appeared primed to finally put an end to their seven-game losing streak.
But Pavano's impressive outing came to a halt in the seventh inning, as the Indians rallied for six runs to hand the Twins a 6-5 loss on Sunday at Target Field.
With the defeat, the Twins were swept for the 13th time this season -- the most times the club has been swept since being swept 17 times in 1978.
"The ballgame was a little frustrating," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Some mistakes and some walks. Carl pitched his tail off. Unfortunately for us, we couldn't throw the ball over the plate and they had a big inning. But to the guys' credit, we kept battling back and we gave ourselves a chance at the end. But it's really frustrating."
Pavano had given up just three hits coming into the seventh, but allowed a leadoff homer to Shelley Duncan, before Lonnie Chisenhall reached on an error by first baseman Chris Parmelee.
Jason Donald then flied out to right field, and Ezequiel Carrera barely beat out a potential double-play comebacker to keep the inning alive. Pavano was visibly frustrated by the call, as he felt the inning should've been over.
"He definitely was getting down there pretty quick, but I thought we had a pretty good shot," Pavano said. "It was pretty close. I thought for sure [it was an out]. I didn't see the tape, but I thought we had a chance.
After the close play, Lou Marson singled and Kosuke Fukudome walked to load the bases with two outs.
Pavano was then removed in favor of left-hander Jose Mijares, who walked Jason Kipnis to bring home the second run of the inning. Right-hander Alex Burnett came in to face Carlos Santana, but walked home another run to tie the game at 3.
"As a manager, it's my fault," Gardenhire said of the bases-loaded walks. "I brought those guys in with the expectation they would throw the ball over the plate and take our chances. But they didn't do it, so I'll take the blame."
Left-hander Glen Perkins was called on to face former teammate Jim Thome, but Thome reached on a broken-bat infield single to bring home the go-ahead run. Duncan then plated two more runs with a double.
It made Pavano the losing pitcher despite his solid effort, and he was less than thrilled with the way it turned out.
"It's crazy. It really is," Pavano said. "They lead the inning off with a home run, and it kind of puts the momentum on their side a little bit. And before you know it, a couple bad bounces here and they're running it away with it. It's disappointing. How that game got away is beyond me."
The ugly inning spoiled the offense's showing against Indians right-hander Justin Masterson, who surrendered three runs (one earned) on seven hits over six innings.
The Twins scored their first run in the second on Joe Benson's first career RBI, as he grounded out to score Luke Hughes, who led off the frame with a single and reached third on a single by Brian Dinkelman.
They scored again in the fourth, as Hughes and Dinkelman both singled again to open the inning. Hughes later came home from third on a throwing error by catcher Lou Marson, who tried to throw out Benson at second on a stolen-base attempt.
Minnesota also pushed a run across in the sixth, when Dinkelman's third hit of the afternoon plated Hughes, who reached second on a throwing error by Kipnis. The Twins later loaded the bases with one out, when Jason Repko was hit in the head by a pitch from Masterson. Repko was sent to Hennepin County Medical Center for further evaluation after being helped off the field, but a CT scan revealed he was fine. After play resumed, Masterson was able to shake it off, as Drew Butera grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"It's a tough one, because the ball just flew out of my hand," Masterson said of the hit by pitch. "For me, I thought in that instance, it'd be a great time for what ended up happening on the next pitch, for a double play."
The Twins made it interesting in the eighth, as they loaded the bases with two outs and pinch-hitter Danny Valencia and Ben Revere drew run-scoring walks. But Trevor Plouffe popped out to second to end the inning.
"What goes around comes around," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "They battled back, too, and made it very interesting for us when our bullpen had a little bit of an issue there in the eighth."