MINNEAPOLIS -- It's been another tough season for the Twins, who have been in last place in the American League Central for most of the year.
But the Twins were able to climb out of the cellar for the first time since April 25 with a 12-5 win over the Indians on Saturday at Target Field.
With the Royals losing earlier in the day, Minnesota moved into sole possession of fourth place for the first time since leading Kansas City by a half-game just 19 games into the season.
The offense was impressive for a second straight night while right-hander Samuel Deduno was the latest Twins pitcher to go deep into a game by going seven innings. Minnesota starters have now gone at least six innings in nine of their last 12 games, which Gardenhire said is the biggest key to playing better baseball the rest of the year.
"We need that," Gardenhire said. "To protect our bullpen and get through the second half of the season and have any chance at all to battle and have some fun, we have to have our starters give us some innings. These have been pretty good ballgames lately."
Deduno was effectively wild, as he walked five batters, but gave up just one run on two hits with six strikeouts. The lone run he gave up came in the first inning on an RBI groundout from Carlos Santana.
"I got into a little bit of trouble in the first inning, but everything was good," said Deduno, who picked up his second career victory. "My fastball was moving a little too much. But I think I can control it."
He was backed by another strong showing from the offense, which reached double-digits in runs scored for the second straight game after an 11-0 win over Cleveland on Friday.
The Twins were held hitless until the fourth inning by right-hander Justin Masterson before Josh Willingham came through with a two-run homer to score Joe Mauer, who drew a two-out walk and stole second base. It was Willingham's team-leading 27th homer.
"We had a good night last night and tonight we kind of continued that with getting key hits," Willingham said. "I don't know how many hits we had, but most of the hits that we did have came in big situations."
Minnesota tacked on three more runs in the fifth on the help of a throwing error from third baseman Jack Hannahan on a grounder hit by Danny Valencia. After the error, Alexi Casilla brought home two runs with a triple before scoring on a bloop single from Ben Revere.
But the Indians maintained that it was a blown call by first-base umpire Chris Guccione, as they felt Casey Kotchman was able to keep his foot on first base.
"It's frustrating," Hannahan said. "It was a high hopper. I stayed back on it and kind of rushed the throw. Casey made a great play and stayed on the base and we didn't get the call. That led to three runs. When things are going bad, that's the kind of stuff that happens."
The Twins blew the game open with five runs in the sixth inning against Masterson. Casilla came through with a two-run double to start the scoring before Denard Span brought home two more runs with a double of his own. Revere capped the scoring in that frame with an RBI single to plate Span.
"The offense was pretty much up and down the lineup," Gardenhire said. "Alexi Casilla had a big game at the bottom of the lineup. Of course, Willingham put one in the seats again. He just continues to amaze you."
Minnesota added a run in the seventh on an RBI double from Danny Valencia that snapped an 0-for-28 skid for him dating back to April.
Left-hander Tyler Robertson served up a two-run homer to Santana in the eighth inning before Luis Perdomo gave up two runs in the ninth in his Twins debut.
The Twins scored their final run thanks to an RBI single from Mauer to drive in Revere in the eighth inning.
So while Mauer was happy to see the offense come through with 12 runs, he was equally impressed with Deduno.
"He had a real good feel for his breaking pitches tonight," Mauer said. "It was almost like he was a little bit more confident throwing a strike with that than his fastball. That's my job, to try to figure out what he's doing well that day. He was really throwing his offspeed over for strikes today, so that was good."