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CLE@CWS: McAllister stifles Sox over 6 2/3 frames

Winners of six straight, the Indians are playing some of their best baseball of the season right now -- and the hot streak couldn't have come at a better time.

Entering their final series of the regular season -- a four-game set against Minnesota at Target Field that begins Thursday -- Cleveland currently holds a one-game lead over Texas for the American League's second Wild Card spot.

The Tribe also trails Tampa Bay by a game for the top AL Wild Card berth, which comes with home-field advantage in next week's AL Wild Card Game.

"Things run in streaks, and they do with all teams," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "I do think, though, there's times when things happen, and when they happen more than once and twice and three times, guys start to believe."

Francona has this current bunch believing, with its magic number down to four. Any combination of Indians wins and Rangers losses totaling four would put Cleveland in the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

"In baseball, you have to be a few things: one, you have to be good, you have to be a little bit fortunate," Francona said. "And then you have to be good enough to take advantage of the good fortune."

Twins left-hander Andrew Albers takes the hill looking to snap the Indians' winning streak and his own personal four-game losing streak. Albers (2-4, 3.98 ERA) has had trouble working deep into games of late, and he's coming off a start in which he lasted just 4 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs (though just three were earned).

"Unfortunately for him, if we just make a couple of plays behind him, it's a different story," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You've got to make plays."

September has been a bit of a grind for the Twins. After winning their first three games this month, they have dropped 17 of 22, including a 3-10 mark against clubs currently holding playoff spots.

During that stretch, they have yet to face the Indians, who will send right-hander Zach McAllister to the hill opposite Albers. McAllister is coming off a pair of victories in his last two starts, allowing just one run in each.

In two starts this year against Minnesota, McAllister has looked very sharp, tossing 13 1/3 innings and allowing just three earned runs on eight hits. He earned the win in both games.

Indians: Giambi relishing pinch-hitting role
• Francona said "it's not an accident" that Jason Giambi hit his walk-off home run on Tuesday night. He cited Giambi's preparation and mindset as the two biggest reasons the veteran has thrived in a pinch-hitting role.

Giambi hasn't shied away from that one bit, pointing to a daily routine that he has perfected when he starts a game on the bench.

"I usually hit around the fifth or the sixth inning maybe," Giambi said. "And I'll kind of have a feel for the game. Who's coming up in what situation? See what position I might hit in. And just try to stay loose."

Twins: Arcia undergoes MRI exam
• Rookie outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, who hasn't played since Sunday because of an injured right knee, underwent a precautionary MRI exam on Wednesday.

Gardenhire is hopeful Arcia will be able to return sometime during this series.

"He's getting a precautionary MRI, but is actually feeling better today," Gardenhire said. "We want him to get out there and run around in the outfield a little bit, but they wanted to make sure everything was safe and sound."

Worth noting
• The Indians have won nine of 15 games against Minnesota this season, but they've split the six contests at Target Field.

• In 10 at-bats against McAllister, Twins outfielder Josh Willingham has six hits, including three home runs.

• Minnesota's Ryan Doumit is one homer away from 100 for his career.

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