CLEVELAND (AP) -- By the time the heaviest rainstorm blew across Jacobs Field in the seventh inning, the Cleveland Indians had already poured it on the Minnesota Twins.
Juan Gonzalez homered and had five RBIs as Cleveland slid back into first place in the AL Central on Thursday night with a 9-6 win over the Twins in a soggy game called in the seventh because of rain.
"We got the lead, and Mother Nature took care of the rest," Indians manager Charlie Manuel said.
Gonzalez's three-run homer in the first off J.C. Romero (1-4) helped the Indians win two of three in the series and moved them one-half game ahead of the Twins.
Cleveland came in having been swept in Pittsburgh last weekend and had gone 2-7 in interleague play against Cincinnati, Milwaukee and the Pirates.
But while they couldn't handle the NL Central, the Indians looked more like themselves against their closest division rival.
"It feels good to score runs again," shortstop Omar Viquel said after the Indians had their second nine-run game of the series. "We needed that."
The finale was delayed for 41 minutes in the second and finally called following a 61-minute stoppage in the seventh when the grounds crew couldn't cover the infield because the water-logged tarp was too heavy to drag.
Almost an hour into the second delay, crew chief Larry Young asked for the tarp to be pulled back to see what kind of condition the field was in. Moments later, he emerged from the Twins' dugout and waved up to the press box that the game was official.
Young said he waited to cover the field because he wanted the Twins to have their full at-bat in the seventh.
"Rain situations are always difficult," Young said. "I was trying to get one more out. We felt the rain was coming down fairly hard, but we wanted one more out."
Twins manager Tom Kelly consulted with Young during the delay, but said he never considered protesting.
"We lost because we didn't pitch very well," Kelly said. "We didn't lose because of the rain, grounds crew or umpires. We didn't pitch well enough.
"We'll protest our pitching, maybe."
Cleveland, which last led the division from June 6-10, are 5-2 this season against the Twins with 12 games remaining against them.
Roberto Alomar had three hits and Marty Cordova added a two-run homer for the Indians.
Torii Hunter and A.J. Pierzynski homered in a five-run second for Minnesota. But the Twins made three errors and have now lost six of seven.
Once again, a Cleveland starter was bailed out by the Indians overworked bullpen. Jaret Wright lasted just two innings, allowing five runs and five hits.
But Steve Woodard (1-0) took over following the rain delay and pitched three solid innings. Ricardo Rincon worked a scoreless 1 2-3 innings for his second save -- both in rain-shortened games.
In Cleveland's 69 games, Indians starters have failed to get past the fifth inning 30 times.
"The first inning went well, because I was throwing the ball where I wanted," Wright said. "In the second, I made four mistakes: two hanging breaking balls and two fastballs over the plate."
Gonzalez's 17th homer gave the Indians a 3-0 lead in the first. It was also his 379th career homer, tying him with Hall of Famer Orlando Cepeda for the most by a Puerto Rican native.
Notes: Woodard has allowed just one run in his last 16 1-3 innings. ... Quinton McCracken is expected to rejoin the Twins this weekend in Detroit following his father's funeral in North Carolina on Friday. Herman McCracken passed away suddenly last week while staying at the Twins' hotel in Chicago. ... Gonzalez's five-RBI game was the 26th of his career and first since Sept. 24, 1999.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.