Twins fall to streaking AL Central-leading Tigers
DETROIT (AP) -- After allowing two runs in the first inning, Scott Diamond shut down the streaking Detroit Tigers.
It turned out the damage was done.
Doug Fister pitched seven scoreless innings in another terrific start for Detroit, outdueling Diamond and leading the Tigers to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.
Diamond (1-4) allowed two runs, one earned, and seven hits in six innings. The rookie left-hander struck out four, walked four and got little support from his offense.
"All I can do is keep pitching," Diamond said. "I'm up here to succeed, and to pitch that well against a great offense like Detroit is going to give me a lot of confidence going forward."
The AL Central-leading Tigers have won nine straight for the first time since 1984, when Detroit won the World Series.
Fister (8-13) allowed three hits, struck out five and walked two. Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth, and Jose Valverde allowed a run in the ninth but held on for his 43rd save in 43 chances.
The Twins have lost eight of nine.
Detroit scored both of its runs in the first. Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez and Delmon Young started with consecutive singles for a 1-0 lead, then second baseman Matt Tolbert misplayed a potential double-play grounder by Miguel Cabrera for an error. Victor Martinez did bounce into a double play, but another run came home.
Martinez ended up hitting into four double plays, becoming the first player to do that since Joe Torre on July 21, 1975, for the New York Mets against Houston, according to STATS, LLC.
Martinez grounded into double plays in his first three at-bats, then came up with a man on first in the eighth and hit a line drive that was caught by Chris Parmelee, the first baseman. After diving toward first to make the catch, Parmelee simply reached out and touched the base to double off the runner.
"I felt like high-fiving Victor -- he was making outs like crazy for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked. "Apparently, it takes a great hitter to make eight outs in one game, because I've never seen anything like that. Even he looked like he was laughing after the line drive for the fourth one. If I were Victor, I'd probably go home and have a glass of ... orange juice. Maybe even with something else in it."
Valverde allowed a walk to Joe Mauer and a single to Luke Hughes to start the ninth. Parmelee flied out to shallow left, and pinch-hitter Jason Kubel drove in a run with a groundout to first, moving the tying run into scoring position.
When Rene Tosoni struck out swinging to end it, the always-demonstrative Valverde dropped briefly to a knee before getting up, pumping his fist.
"We got close in the ninth, but you need someone to put a good swing on the ball in that situation," Gardenhire said. "We got a couple people on, and then we just couldn't get one more big hit."
Fister was acquired to give the Tigers more pitching depth, but he's staked a legitimate claim to being Detroit's second-best starter behind Justin Verlander. In his last five starts, he's allowed three earned runs in 36 2-3 innings, striking out 36 and walking four.
Minnesota had runners on first and second with one out in the fifth, but shortstop Jhonny Peralta made a nice stop on Tolbert's grounder for a force play at second. Fister struck out Drew Butera to end the threat.
Tigers 3, Twins 2
DETROIT (AP) -- Brandon Inge hit his second game-ending homer of the season, giving the Detroit Tigers a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night.
With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Inge hit a 2-1 pitch into the left-field stands off Glen Perkins (4-4) to give Detroit its eighth straight victory.
Inge hit a game-ending homer on April 13 against Texas' Darren Oliver. His only other homer this season came in his first at-bat with the Tigers after an month-long exile to Triple-A Toledo.
Al Alburquerque (6-1) picked up the victory with a perfect ninth inning.
Neither starting pitcher was involved in the decision. Detroit's Max Scherzer allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings, while Anthony Swarzak gave up a pair of runs on four hits in six innings.
The Tigers took a third-inning lead on Wilson Betemit's seventh homer, but the Twins tied it 1-1 in the fourth on Joe Mauer's third home run of the season.
Detroit went back in front in the fourth when Andy Dirks led off with a double, took third on Miguel Cabrera's one-out groundout and scored on Victor Martinez's RBI single.
Scherzer held the one-run lead until the sixth, when Trevor Plouffe drew a walk, moved to third on Mauer's base hit. Austin Jackson then made a spectacular leaping catch of Danny Valencia's drive to deep center, but Plouffe easily scored from third on the play.