ST. LOUIS -- — Michael A. Taylor and Ryan Jeffers each hit a two-run homer, and the AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals 5-3 on Thursday night.

The Twins took two of three from the Cardinals and increased their division lead to 2 1/2 games over idle Cleveland. Minnesota has won just twice in its last eight games.

“It's a great way to end the road trip,” Minnesota manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Grabbing some early runs and great starting pitching, that's a winning combination. That's exactly what we got today.”

Sonny Gray (5-4) picked up the win in his first start with the Twins, giving up two runs and five hits in seven innings. In getting his first win since April 30, Gray snapped a four-game losing streak over a span of 15 starts.

Matthew Liberatore (1-4) pitched 5 2/3 innings before chased with the bases loaded in the sixth. Drew Verhagen issued a walk to Taylor for a run before getting a strikeout to end the threat. Liberatore allowed five earned runs and six hits with two walks.

Joe Ryan (left groin strain) was placed on the 15-day Injured List. Ryan, 27, took the loss Wednesday to fall to 9-8. With Ryan's move, it makes room for Dallas Keuchel on the 40-man roster. His contract was picked up from Triple-A St. Paul. Keuchel, 35, has gone 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in six starts for the Saints this season. He was named International League Pitcher of the Month for July.

The Arizona Diamondbacks come to Target Field for the weekend. RHP Merrill Kelly (9-5, 3.23) will face the Twins Bailey Ober (6-5, 3.19) Friday night. The first pitch is 7:10 PM on ESPN 102.3/AM 1000 KSOO.

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