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Tomlin, Orioles best Twins

CLEVELAND (TSX) — Pitchers always face a long road back from Tommy John surgery, but Josh Tomlin officially completed his journey Tuesday night.

The 29-year-old right-hander, making his first major league start in almost two years, pitched into the seventh inning, and the Cleveland Indians scored four early runs to beat the Minnesota Twins 4-2 at Progressive Field.

“I had some anxiety before the game, but it was a good anxiety,” Tomlin said. “Then to go out and pitch well is very special to me.”

Tomlin, who had elbow reconstruction surgery in August 2012, last started in the major leagues on July 27, 2012. He missed most of the 2013 season while rehabbing from the surgery. In five starts at Triple-A Columbus this year, he was 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA. He was recalled to replace right-hander Carlos Carrasco, who lost his spot in the rotation after going 0-3 with a 6.95 ERA in four starts.

“That was exciting to watch,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “Before the game, I told Josh to enjoy the hell out of it.”

Tomlin pitched 20 consecutive scoreless innings at Columbus prior to his recall, and he extended the streak to 26 by allowing just two hits through the first six innings.

The Indians jumped in front 4-0 with two-run rallies in each of the first two innings.

“We gave Josh the lead, and he did exactly what he’s supposed to do: throw strikes, work both sides of the plate, get ahead, and work down in the zone,” Francona said.

Tomlin gave up a solo home run to first baseman Chris Colabello in the seventh inning to cut Cleveland’s lead to 4-1. Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski replaced Tomlin and finished the seventh inning.

In 6 2/3 innings, Tomlin (1-0) gave up one run on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. He earned his first major league win since July 5, 2012.

“It’s very satisfying, after putting in all the hard work during my rehab,” Tomlin said. “There are never any guarantees that you will be able to come back from that surgery, so that’s always in the back of your mind.”

Right-hander Bryan Shaw pitched the ninth to pick up his first save. Closer John Axford was unavailable after pitching three days in a row. Minnesota scored an unearned run off Shaw on an RBI double by third baseman Eduardo Escobar.

The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the first inning off right-hander Samuel Deduno. With one out, first baseman Nick Swisher doubled and scored on a single by left fielder Michael Brantley. Later in the inning, Brantley scored on an error by Colabello.

Deduno (0-2) was making his first start after opening the season in the bullpen. He pitched five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts.

“I’m not frustrated because it was my first start,” Deduno said. “I made a mistake to Swisher and he hit it pretty hard. After that, I just tried to stay focused.”

Cleveland doubled the margin in the second inning. Designated hitter Lonnie Chisenhall singled and went to second on a balk. Catcher Yan Gomes belted a double to center field, scoring Chisenhall, and Gomes later scored on Swisher’s two-out single.

Left-hander Logan Darnell relieved Deduno and pitched three scoreless and hitless innings.

“We had a bad start, but we had our chances at the end. That’s all you can ask for,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Sammy was good and Darnell was lights out, but their guy was real good. Give credit to him.”

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