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Kepler hits three home runs as Twins beat Indians

Minnesota Twins center fielder Max Kepler (26) watches his two-run home run in the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on Thursday, June 6. Kepler hit three home runs in the game. David Richard / USA TODAY Sports1 / 2
Minnesota Twins relief pitcher Taylor Rogers (55) delivers in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. David Richard / USA TODAY Sports2 / 2

CLEVELAND -- Rocco Baldelli projected almost no concern.

His leadoff hitter was in an 0-for-21 slump, still searching for his first hit of the road trip, but, asked about it pre-game Thursday night, the manager was confident he would pull out of it.

“Just like we’ve talked about other guys in our lineup that had a couple of patches where they didn’t get any hits … we end up talking about it, and then they get out of it, and that’s generally how it goes,” Baldelli said.

That was exactly how it went for Max Kepler, who broke out of his slump with a three-home run night in the Twins’ 5-4 win over the Indians in the series finale at Progressive Field.

Those home runs came off of Trevor Bauer, no less, one of the toughest pitchers in the American League. Coming into the night, Kepler was 8 for 31 off Bauer (.258) with no home runs in his career.

The three homers marked the second time Kepler had accomplished the feat — the last coming on Aug. 21, 2016, also against the Indians in Cleveland. The only other Twin to do so twice is teammate Eddie Rosario.

Kepler drove in four of the team’s runs in the game. The other came in the fifth when Mitch Garver doubled in Jorge Polanco.

The outfielder’s big night came in support of starter Jose Berrios, who allowed just two runs — one earned — in his six-plus innings pitched.

Berrios had allowed three or more runs in each of his last four outings, but was sharp on Thursday.

He kept the Indians (31-31) scoreless until the fifth when he gave up a solo blast to Roberto Perez, his third home run in as many nights.

Jose Ramirez, the last batter Berrios faced on his night, reached on an error and scored later in the seventh after his departure.

The Indians scored one more run in the seventh and one off Taylor Rogers in the ninth.

The Twins (41-20) are the only team in MLB that has not lost three straight games all season, and Thursday’s win means that streak will continue.

The Twins leave Cleveland with a 10 1/2-game lead in the American League Central.