MINNEAPOLIS -- — The Cleveland Guardians came to Minnesota and won their seventh consecutive series, pulling ahead of the Twins in the AL Central with five more matchups looming next week.

Too early to call it a race? Perhaps, but after three straight one-run games there's no denying these division rivals will match up the rest of the way.

Nick Gordon hit a third-inning home run that stood up for starter Devin Smeltzer as the Twins dodged a sweep, cooling off the Guardians with a 1-0 win on Thursday.

“I try not to get wrapped up in the race. The only pitch that matters is the next one. The only game that matters is the next one,” Smeltzer said. "What happens in the past, you really can’t control. If you start riding those waves, that’s when you start getting in trouble.”

Gordon, subbing for ailing star Byron Buxton in center field, drove a 1-2 curveball from Zach Plesac (3-4) into the grass berm beyond the wall in center. Smeltzer took it from there, before a high-wire act by Minnesota's taxed and struggling bullpen finished off the back-and-forth series.

The Guardians loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning against Joe Smith. They got a man to second base with one out in the eighth facing Jhoan Duran, the Twins' best reliever. They had a runner on second with one out in the ninth against Caleb Thielbar, who recorded his first career save by striking out pinch-hitter Steven Kwan to end the game.

Cleveland lost for just the fifth time in its last 22 games. The Guardians (36-29) lead by percentage points in the AL Central race, having played six fewer games than the Twins (39-32).

RHP Dylan Bundy (4-3, 5.17) takes the mound to begin a three-game against Colorado on Friday night, coming off his best start of the season with one run allowed over eight innings at Arizona last week. RHP Germán Márquez (3-5, 6.16) pitches for the Rockies.

Twins baseball is on ESPN 102.3/AM 1000 KSOO.


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