CLEVELAND — Jose Ramirez wanted the spotlight. He wilted in it.
Cleveland's second baseman made a costly throwing error in the ninth inning, allowing the Minnesota Twins to score two unearned runs and beat the Indians 4-2 on Thursday night.
One night after Ramirez angered the Twins by posing to watch a three-run homer before flipping his bat toward their dugout, his miscue helped Minnesota avoid a devastating loss and move within one game of idle Houston for the second AL wild-card spot.
"The game can be humbling," said Indians manager Terry Francona, who was not pleased with Ramirez's show-boating. "I'm sure they took a little extra satisfaction out of that."
Pinch-runner Eduard Nunez scored from third base on a wild pitch from Cody Allen (2-5) and Torii Hunter hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth for the Twins, who head home for three games against Kansas City.
The Indians were reduced to spoilers after being eliminated on Wednesday, and for a while it appeared they might hand the Twins a tough loss.
With the score tied 2-2, Trevor Plouffe reached when Ramirez bounced his throw to first in the dirt. Nunez, running for Plouffe, raced to third on Eddie Rosario's single to right before Allen bounced a 2-2 pitch to Hunter in the dirt. Hunter followed with a fly to deep right, bringing in Rosario.
Glenn Perkins (3-5) pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Kevin Jepsen worked the ninth for his 15th save as the Twins concluded a 5-2 road trip to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Cleveland's Trevor Bauer, making his first start since Sept. 13, allowed just one run and two hits — two doubles in the fourth — and got a no-decision. The quirky right-hander, who flew a drone above the field before the game, was demoted to the bullpen last month but made only one appearance in relief.
But he ended his season on a positive note he can carry into the offseason. Despite some inconsistency, Bauer is pleased with his performance in 2015.
"I think it was a big step in the right direction for me," he said. "Obviously there's some things that I need to clean up. But I've won more games that I have before, I had more really high quality outings. I think I had maybe 11 wins and probably 12 or 13 games where I pitched really, really well. So that end is definitely going in the right direction and I look at that as a positive. Obviously I can be better, so I'm going to work hard on doing that but I'm going the right way."
Roberto Perez's two-run homer off Twins rookie Tyler Duffey in the seventh inning had given Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
Duffey took a four-hit shutout into the seventh when Abraham Almonte singled with one out before Perez drove a 3-1 pitch over the wall in center for his seventh homer. As the shot cleared the wall, Twins second baseman Brian Dozier put his hands over his head in shock and disappointment.
But the Twins weren't done and Ramirez, who had nearly triggered a brawl with his post-home run theatrics on Wednesday, made the crucial error that ignited their rally.
"He committed an error and went 0 for 4," Hunter said. "He might have suffered enough. He's young. You got to know the game. What he did last night was wrong, but I'm pretty sure he understands that."
The Indians went 7-12 against Minnesota and had a losing record versus the rest of the AL Central, going 32-43 inside the division.
Indians: OF Michael Brantley plans to begin a two-week recovery program on his right shoulder with the hope he'll be able to avoid surgery. Brantley was shut down Wednesday for the remainder of the season with an injury sustained last week while trying to make a diving catch.
"Nobody ever wants to go under the knife," said Brantley, who received a cortisone shot. "As it stands right now, we're heading in the right direction."
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana opens a three-game series against Kansas City, which clinched the AL Central title earlier this week and is trying to secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Santana, who can't pitch in the postseason because of a drug suspension, has won five straight starts.
Indians: RHP Josh Tomlin makes his final start this season in the series opener against the Boston Red Sox. Tomlin lasted a season-low 3 2-2 innings last week against Kansas City.