Every five days, opponents fret over how to beat Twins lefthander Johan Santana.
"He's one of the best if not the best in baseball," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "With him, you're just hoping he'll make a mistake."
Wedge was wrong Tuesday. Cleveland beat the Twins 5-3 at the Metrodome not necessarily because they solved Santana.
There were little things, like overaggressive baserunning and a hesitant throw that allowed a run to score. And bigger things, such as a lineup down two regulars because of injuries getting shut down by a pitcher who looked nothing like what Twins players remembered about righthander Fausto Carmona.
That's why the Twins lost their third consecutive game and fourth in the past five. That's why Santana (3-2) lost back-to-back home starts for the first time since May 2005.
"We're battling through injuries here and we're scuffling with the bats right now," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We're getting after it and are playing hard and are still trying to take extra bases. It's just not working out too well right now. We just have to keep plugging away."
Santana lost 4-2 at home on April 13 to Tampa Bay because the offense was shut down by lefthander Scott Kazmir. Santana had gone 17-0 -- and the Twins were 24-0 -- in his previous 24 home starts.
Twins hitters were stymied by Carmona, who entered Tuesday with a 1-11 career record. Carmona, 23, held the Twins to two runs on six hits over a career-high 7 2/3 innings. He decided to get better, and the Twins weren't happy about it.
"Carmona, he's got good stuff," Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer said. "In the past, when he needed the big pitch, he wasn't able to make it. He made that pitch tonight. He got guys out early in counts."
The Twins fell behind 1-0 in the first inning on a 431-foot homer to center by Travis Hafner. It was the seventh consecutive plate appearance in which Hafner reached base -- although technically he circled them. Hafner grounded out in his next at-bat to end the streak.
Cleveland scored again in the fourth when Victor Martinez singled and went to third on Ryan Garko's double. Santana got Trot Nixon to ground to rookie second baseman Alexi Casilla, but Casilla hesitated before throwing home and allowed Martinez to slide in just ahead of the tag. Garko moved to third and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jason Michaels. If Casilla had thrown home decisively, Santana could have saved himself two runs. Cleveland later added runs in the seventh and eighth.
The Twins got two runs in the fourth on a RBI single by Justin Morneau and a sacrifice fly by Torii Hunter. Carmona showed the poise of a cagey veteran after that, retiring 10 consecutive Twins before Jason Kubel singled in the seventh. Kubel, who had three hits, singled in a run in the ninth off closer Joe Borowski, but Cleveland left town with a sweep of the two-game series.
"It seems like, the past couple of days, we've gotten everybody's best game," Cuddyer said.