DETROIT (AP) — Rookie Eugenio Suarez hit a leadoff homer and a run-scoring double in Detroit’s seven-run third inning, and the slumping Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 12-9 on Saturday.
The Tigers led 11-1 after six innings, but their struggling bullpen had trouble finishing off the game.
Detroit came into the game having lost 17 of 24 after a fast start to the season, but it was helped by another strong pitching performance. Anibal Sanchez (3-2) was charged with three runs and four hits in 6.1 innings.
Sanchez, Drew Smyly and Max Scherzer have combined for a 1.69 ERA in Detroit’s last three games.
Sanchez was in complete control before he walked the leadoff hitter in the seventh and allowed a one-out RBI triple to Eduardo Nunez. Evan Reed then came in, and Nunez scored on a passed ball.
Samuel Deduno (2-5) lasted just 2.2 innings for Minnesota, which had won three in a row. The right-hander allowed seven runs and seven hits, struck out three and walked two.
Deduno is 1-2 with a 10.13 ERA in his last four starts.
Suarez started the third with a drive to left for his third homer in eight games since he was promoted from Triple-A Toledo on June 4. The shortstop, who turns 23 next month, finished with three hits and is batting .400 (8 for 20) with four walks and six RBIs.
Suarez’s homer came moments after former Tigers star Magglio Ordonez was shown on the videoboard, receiving a huge ovation. Suarez grew up idolizing Ordonez in Venezuela and wears No. 30 in his honor.
Suarez drove in Nick Castellanos with a double later in the inning, and Torii Hunter also had an RBI double. Victor Martinez’s drive off the top of the right-field wall was originally ruled a double, but quickly became a two-run homer after a replay review.
Ian Kinsler drove in the seventh run of the inning with an infield single, and third baseman Trevor Plouffe strained his left oblique diving for the ball. Plouffe stayed in the game for another batter, but had to leave after aggravating the injury while throwing out Hunter to end the inning.
Suarez added a triple in the seventh and had a chance for a cycle in the eighth, but bounced into a forceout. Only one player — Cliff Heathcote of the 1918 St. Louis Cardinals — recorded a cycle in the first eight games of his career.
The Twins scored three times in the seventh and eighth to close to 12-7, but Ian Krol retired Joe Mauer with the bases loaded for the final out of the eighth. Krol allowed a two-run homer to Brian Dozier in the ninth before finishing for his first career save.
NOTES: With the homer and double in the third, Suarez became the first Tigers player with two extra-base hits in an inning since Ordonez on August 12, 2007. … The teams finish the three-game series Sunday afternoon with Detroit’s Rick Porcello facing Minnesota’s Ricky Nolasco.
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