CLEVELAND — The Minnesota Twins have packed as much punch as any lineup in baseball this season. On Thursday night, the Indians were able to punch back.

The Indians overcame a four-run deficit early on and, aided by the long ball, eventually overtook the Twins for a key 9-7 rain-delayed victory at Progressive Field. The win pulled the Indians (31-30) to within 9½ games of the Twins (40-20) in the American League Central race.

The Twins rebounded after a 5-2 loss on Tuesday to jump out to a 5-1 lead by the third inning. Eddie Rosario tripled off starter Tyler Clippard in the second inning and scored on C.J. Cron's double to center field to tie it 1-1. Byron Buxton, facing lefty Tyler Olson later in the inning, then blasted a mammoth 454-foot three-run home run that landed more than halfway up the bleachers in left field, putting the Twins up 4-1.

An inning later, Nelson Cruz also homered off Olson.

That kind of offensive outburst has been the norm for the Twins. But the Indians, who have struggled at the plate all year, were able to keep pace.

With Francisco Lindor on third in the third inning, a passed ball by catcher Jason Castro made it 5-2, and Jose Ramirez later added his second RBI single of the night, cutting the deficit to 5-3.

A home run by Jorge Polanco made it 6-3, but the Indians drew to within 6-5 in the fifth when Jordan Luplow doubled in Carlos Santana and Ramirez followed with his third RBI single of the game on a liner to left field. 

Then the rain arrived and forced a lengthy delay, but the two leading contenders in the division continued to trade punches after the weather cleared. Polanco singled off Nick Wittgren to add an insurance run in the seventh, but it wasn't enough.

The Indians delivered a 1-2 punch in the seventh that acted as the haymaker. Luplow tied it with his first home run of the season off a right-handed pitcher, a two-run blast off Twins reliever Blake Parker. Three batters later, Roberto Perez drilled a solo shot to right field to put the Indians up 8-7, their first advantage since leading 1-0 in the second inning.

It was Perez's ninth home run of the season, already his career high for a single season.

An inning later, Lindor continued his torrid stretch by blasting a solo home run, pushing the Indians' lead to 9-7.

In the ninth, Brad Hand closed the door for his 18th save of the season.

Ryan Lewis can be reached at rlewis@thebeaconjournal.com. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.