Twins blow late lead, lose 9th straight
DETROIT (AP) — Prince Fielder bounced a tiebreaking single off Jared Burton’s glove in the eighth inning, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night.
Omar Infante started the inning with a single and was bunted to second by Torii Hunter. Ron Gardenhire then ordered Miguel Cabrera intentionally walked, but Fielder foiled the plan with a grounder that Burton (0-2) deflected past second baseman Brian Dozier.
Cabrera drove in three runs, including his sixth homer in four games. Cabrera has now matched a career high by homering in four straight games. He has also walked five times in the four games, and Fielder has followed all five with hits, driving in seven more runs.
Joaquin Benoit (1-0) pitched a perfect inning of relief, while Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
The Tigers trailed 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, but scored three times off three Minnesota pitchers. Infante singled and Cabrera walked with one out, bringing Brian Duensing into the game. He allowed RBI singles to Fielder and Victor Martinez before giving way to Burton.
Jhonny Peralta greeted Burton with a tying double, and Matt Tuiasosopo was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Brayan Pena and Andy Dirks popped out to end the inning.
The Tigers had taken a 2-0 lead in the first when Cabrera lifted a 2-2 pitch into the bullpens beyond the left-field fence. It was the first of his six homers in four games that he had pulled - the others had all been to centerfield or right-center.
Rick Porcello almost got a second straight inning-ending double play in the second, but Jhonny Peralta juggled Dozier’s grounder and Dozier beat the relay throw to allow Justin Morneau to score.
Minnesota started the third with three straight singles, tying the game, and Josh Willingham made it 5-2 by pulling Porcello’s pitch deep into the left-field stands.
Scott Diamond retired 10 straight batters after Matt Tuiasosopo’s second-inning single, but Detroit loaded the bases with two out in the fifth on two singles and a walk. Cabrera bounced an infield single up the middle, making it 5-3, but Diamond got Prince Fielder to pop out and end the inning.
Detroit threatened again in the sixth, putting runners on second and third with two out, but former Tiger Casey Fien came on to strike out pinch-hitter Andy Dirks. Willingham then moved the lead to three runs with a solo homer off Darin Downs in the seventh.
Notes: Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon left the game after the top of the third with an sprained right index finger. Florimon appeared to sustain the injury while sliding head-first into third base. ... The fans broke into a chant of “Let’s Go Red Wings” in the top of the fifth inning as news spread that Detroit had taken a 1-0 lead over the Blackhawks in the second period of the playoff game. The hockey game was played at Joe Louis Arena, about five minutes from Comerica Park. ... Cabrera also homered in four straight games with the Marlins in April 2004.