Twins' Tommy Milone wins in emergency start for sick Phil Hughes

CLEVELAND -- Minnesota Twins right-hander Phil Hughes was scratched from his start against the Cleveland Indians on Monday because of an illness and was replaced by left-hander Tommy Milone, who stepped up with a clutch performance in the Twins' 4-2 win.

Both teams were in contention for the second wild card in the American League going into the opener of a four-game series. The Twins now trail the Houston Astros by 1½ games, and the Indians are five games out, after Houston held its lead with a 3-2 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Hughes is 11-9 with a 4.43 ERA in 25 starts. Milone, who allowed two runs on four hits in 5⅔ innings in the win, is 9-5 with a 4.04 ERA.

"We all knew how Phil was feeling, and it wasn't out of the question that he might not be able to start," Milone said. "I came in not expecting to, but in the back of my mind being prepared in case that kind of situation was going to happen."

Twins manager Paul Molitor said a virus has affected the team in recent days, including Hughes, third baseman Trevor Plouffe and relievers Brian Duensing and Kevin Jepsen.

"My hat goes off to him, getting the late notice and having to pick us up in the final week of the season when we need to win," Molitor said of Milone.

Minnesota also trails the Los Angeles Angels by a game in the wild-card standings with six games to play. The Twins must pass two teams with several players feeling under the weather.

"The games are dwindling, and we're trying to play catch-up, but I think the guys' focus is good," Molitor said.

Molitor said he decided around 3 p.m. to scratch Hughes, who received an IV at the ballpark Monday. Kyle Gibson, Mike Pelfrey and Tyler Duffey will start the final three games against Cleveland.

Ervin Santana will start the opener of a three-game series Friday against Kansas City, leaving Hughes or Milone to start Saturday.

"We're set for this series, but depending on where we're at, we might need one Saturday," Molitor said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.