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KC@CLE: Carrasco strikes out four over 7 1/3 innings

The home runs could only take the Indians so far.

They lost eight in a row in early June, but the pitching staff has come along. And since the losing streak, they've gone 8-2.

With a pitching staff that has posted a 3.30 ERA over its last 12 games, Cleveland is showing more than just a potent lineup.

Going for the three-game sweep of the Twins on Sunday, the Indians hand the ball to a starter -- Carlos Carrasco -- who had a 15.26 ERA entering his last start.

But he completely dominated the Royals, holding them to one run on four hits over 7 1/3 innings. If Carrasco has found it, Cleveland might be in for a treat.

"He was so good," manager Terry Francona said.

Carrasco, once a highly-regarded prospect out of Venezuela, underwent Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss the entire 2012 season. He did some fine-tuning in Triple-A Columbus this season, posting a 3.21 ERA over 10 games (9 starts) before rejoining the Indians in June.

The 26-year-old righty was lit up for six runs by the Tigers in his first start, but his performance against the Royals had the team buzzing.

"That's probably a little bit much to ask for every outing, but boy, I'll tell you what, that's what we've kind of been hoping for," Francona said.

The Twins, though, are still looking to find that groove.

The Twins scored seven runs in Saturday's loss. They hit four homers, but three were solo shots.

The offense has improved since scoring 92 runs in April, fourth-least in the Majors, but manager Ron Gardenhire has had a difficult time getting his lineup to click.

"We just have never had everybody swinging, you know, good at the same time, which is really hard," he said. "Only a few ballgames -- we did at home there against the [White Sox]. We were swinging pretty decent. We had, what, a few different lineups, but we tried to stay as consistent as we could. ... It's not easy. Mix and match with this group, and go from there."

On the mound for the Twins in the series finale will be Pedro Hernandez, who was recalled from Triple-A Rochester prior to the game. Mike Pelfrey, the scheduled starter, was placed on the DL with a back strain.

Twins: Mauer power
One consistent hitter for the Twins has been Joe Mauer, hitting .327 on the season. And Mauer has only seemed to get better.

Since the beginning of May, the former American League MVP is hitting .348 with 18 doubles and six homers.

"He's just letting it fly more," Gardenhire said. "You'd never see him swing 2-0 in the past. He's taking rips. Joe's opening up a little bit more. I know he went deep, 2-0, at home. That was a high fastball, and [he] ripped that one in the seats. He's just being more aggressive. So, it's going to happen. He's almost normal."

Indians: Swisher return coming
The Indians scored eight runs Saturday, and they did it without first baseman Nick Swisher, who hasn't played in seven straight games due to a sore left shoulder. But Swisher could return Sunday.

"The good news is, he's coming," Francona said. "Is it [Sunday]? I'd say probably, but it'll be the next day, if not."

Swisher has hit .237 with seven home runs, 14 doubles and 24 RBIs through 61 games after signing a five-year, $56 million contract over the winter.

Worth noting
• Indians starter Zach McAllister (right middle finger sprain) played catch at up to 105 feet on Friday and will advance to 120 feet on Sunday. There is still no timetable for his return.

• Jason Kipnis was a homer short of the cycle Saturday. He's hitting .379 in June.

• Trevor Plouffe has provided a spark for the Twins, going 10-for-27 since his return to the lineup on June 15. He missed time with a concussion and a calf injury this season.

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