The Indians' sprint toward the American League wild card game has hit a Cleveland-sized pothole.

Manager Terry Francona brought closer Chris Perez into Thursday night's game in the ninth inning to try and do some salvage work from Tuesday's near disaster against Chicago. The Indians had a 6-1 lead over the Twins at Target Field and it seemed like a perfect time for Perez to get his confidence back.

Instead Perez gave up four runs on four hits including a two-run homer by Josmil Pinto in two-thirds of an inning to turn a cruise-control victory into a nail-biting 6-5 win. Jason Giambi saved Perez on Tuesday and Joe Smith saved him Thursday as he relieved to get the final out for the save.

After the game Francona told reporters that Perez stopped in his office and said "I don't want to be cost the team wins because I don't have my location."

If that was a concession speech it's not coming at a great time. The Indians have three games left in the season. The narrow win kept their hold on the second wild-card spot as Tampa Bay beat the Yankees to retain the top position and Texas beat the Angels to stay one game behind the Indians.

The Indians' options to replace Perez at this point of the season are not good. Former ace Justin Masterson now working in the bullpen could get the ball. Maybe it will be Smith or Bryan Shaw who earned the victory on Thursday. The one guy it doesn't sound like it's going to be is Perez.

Asked how much Perez's stuggles complicated matters Francona said "I think we'll always figure out a way to win. That's how I always view it.

"I always think we're going to figure out a way to do it. We're not a team made of one person. We'll figure it out."

Perez is 1-1 with a 7.52 ERA and 10 saves in 13 chances since Aug. 1.The opposition is hitting .345 (30-for-87) against him with seven homers and eight walks. His WHIP is 1.87.

After Tuesday's near meltdown against the White Sox when Perez gave up two homers Francona said Perez would be out there the next day if he needed someone to close. He did not say that Thursday.

"In situations like this you never make decisions five minutes after a game" said Francona. "But we'll figure it out."

Perez was bothered by a sore right shoulder in spring training. The injury eventually put him on the disabled list during the season. Asked if Perez was hurt Francona said "No. He's making mistakes. Balls are running over the plate."

With the exception of Perez it was a good night for the Indians. Yan Gomes and Michael Brantley each had three hits as the Tribe won its seven straight game and 18th in September.

Zach McAllister and four relievers held the Twins in check through eight innings. Then the Twins went to work against Perez as Alex Presley hit a two-run triple Brian Dozier drove in a run with a ground and Pinto homered.