DAVE HOGG, Associated Press
DETROIT (AP) — Brian Dozier’s two-run single highlighted a four-run second inning and the Minnesota Twins handed the Detroit Tigers a crucial loss, beating them 5-1 on Thursday.
The Tigers were only able to split four games with the lowly Twins, hurting them in the crowded AL wild-card race. Detroit came into the series with a 10-2 record against Minnesota.
Hector Santiago (12-8) got the win, holding the Tigers to one run on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Mike Pelfrey (4-10) lost in his first major-league appearance since July 31. He started the game with a 60-pitch limit, but only lasted 36, giving up four runs on five hits in 1 2/3 innings.
The Twins took the lead in the second on Max Kepler’s RBI single, and he moved to third when Miguel Cabrera missed a pick-off attempt. Eduardo Escobar singled to make it 2-0, and Eddie Rosario beat out a bunt single.
Pelfrey retired the next two batters, but Dozier lined a soft single to left to give the Twins a 4-0 lead and bring Blaine Hardy out of the bullpen.
The Tigers had two runners on in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but Santiago escaped all three jams without allowing a run.
James McCann finally broke the shutout with a two-out RBI double in the sixth, but J.T. Chargois replaced Santiago to get out of the inning. He walked Tyler Collins, but Andrew Romine flew out to the track in right, stranding two more runners.
Hardy kept the Tigers in the game with 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief and Kyle Ryan added two more, but the offense couldn’t take advantage. Alex Wimmers, who came into the game with a 7.56 ERA, faced the top six in Detroit’s order in the seventh and eighth without trouble.
Byron Buxton’s RBI single made it 5-1 in the ninth, and Brandon Kintzler finished Detroit off in the bottom of the inning.
Twins: 3B Miguel Sano flew back to Minnesota to have more tests run on his sore back. Sano left Monday’s game, and said that the problem hasn’t improved. He will miss the weekend series against the Mets, but could return next week when the Twins return home.
OLYMPIC WEEK CONCLUDES
For the fourth day in a row, the Tigers had a Rio Olympic medalist throw out the ceremonial first pitch. On Thursday, it was swimmer Connor Jaeger, who won silver in the 1,500-meter freestyle. Jaeger swam for Michigan.
With the Tigers fighting for a playoff spot, they have been badly let down by their starting pitching. In the last three games of the Twins series, Pelfrey, Anibal Sanchez and Matt Boyd combined to allow 17 runs in 9 1/3 innings.
Twins: Travel to New York for a three-game weekend series against the Mets. Friday night, Minnesota’s Jose Berrios (2-6. 9.27) faces New York’s Bartolo Colon (13-7, 3.27).
Tigers: Head to Cleveland for a three-game series and their last chance to get back into the AL Central race. Rookie of the Year favorite Michael Fulmer (10-6, 2.76) goes up against Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber (16-9, 3.05) in the opener.
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