CLEVELAND -- Indians starter Josh Tomlin gave up four runs in the first inning on Saturday night, but it was the single run he allowed in the sixth that hurt him the most.
After the Indians had rallied from an early four-run deficit to tie the game, Tomlin served up a solo home run to Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe and the Indians could not respond as they fell, 7-4, to the Twins before an announced crowd of 25,469 at Progressive Field.
Tomlin, making his second start after coming off the disabled list last Monday, got Brian Dozier out to begin the sixth, but he made a mistake on the first pitch to Plouffe, and the Twins third baseman didn't miss it.
"It was right down the middle," Tomlin said. "You definitely don't want to do something like that when the guys battled back and tied it up right there. My job's to go out there and put up a zero. I didn't do my job today."
Plouffe had a pretty good idea the fastball was coming.
"He had left one over the plate on the first pitch in my previous at-bat," Plouffe said, "I was mad I wasn't able to swing at it. He got Dozier out on three pitches after a pretty long inning, so I told myself if he grooves one right here, I'm not going to take it."
Plouffe knew what to expect from Tomlin in the sixth, and it appeared every Twins hitter knew what was coming against the right-hander in the first. Tomlin gave up three consecutive singles to begin the game, including an RBI single by Joe Mauer. Justin Morneau added an RBI single and Plouffe knocked in two more runs with a two-out single. The Twins had four runs on five hits in the inning.
"Everybody knows that he's going to throw first-pitch strikes," said Indians manager Manny Acta. "It's not a secret. He's going to attack the zone. The issue was locating. The pitches weren't well-located, he left them out over the plate, and they hit them hard. One thing is throwing strikes, and the other one is throwing quality strikes. In that first inning, he left too many pitches out over the plate."
Tomlin didn't feel like he missed his spot too often in the inning. Once the hits started coming, he said, they just snowballed. Tomlin took the loss and fell to 2-3 on the season.
"Everything I threw up there, they were taking it or putting a good swing on it," Tomlin said. "They got on a roll there, and that kind of stuff gets contagious sometimes when it all happens in one inning. It seemed like that's what happened."
The Indians (28-24) began their comeback in the bottom of the first when Michael Brantley brought in Shin-Soo Choo on a fielder's choice. The Indians had the bases loaded with one out in the inning, but managed only the one run.
Cleveland added single runs in the third and fourth, and tied it in the fifth when Brantley extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single. Johnny Damon had a chance to give Cleveland the lead with runners on second and third in the fifth, but he struck out to end the threat.
"We just couldn't get that last push, that last hit," Acta said. "We take the lead there, and things are different. We could probably match up some guys out of the pen after that when we're ahead and it could have been a different story. But we couldn't do it. We had a good approach against [Twins starter P.J. Walters], and we could have done more damage than what we did."
After Plouffe's blast in the sixth and Mauer's two-run homer off reliever Tony Sipp in the seventh, the Indians bats went quiet. They had come back once, and they couldn't do it again.
Though they hit some balls hard, the Indians were 1-for-13 with five strikeouts over the last four innings after Plouffe's home run.
Tomlin pitched well after his rough first inning, but the damage had been done. He allowed five runs on 10 hits in six innings.
Justin Albers is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.