Detroit is one game ahead of the second-place Royals, who beat Cleveland 2-0 Monday night, after the Indians finished off a victory in a suspended game against Kansas City.
It was 1-1 in the sixth when a line drive and a wild throw led to an appeal toss and a pair of umpire discussions that wound up ruling a Royals runner had left third base too soon.
A combination of 19 hits and seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander helped the Tigers jump 1.5 games ahead of the Royals in the Al Central Division.
Rookie catcher James McCann will start in Avila’s place as Detroit begins a crucial three-game series against the Royals, who were a half-game back in the AL Central.
The Tigers lost a 6-0 lead, but after Joe Mauer’s second two-run single tied the game for the Twins in the eighth inning, Hunter hit the first pitch of the ninth from Casey Fien into the bullpen behind left-center field.
As he walked off the field after finally ending a rough inning, Pabelbon gave a silent message to critical Phillies fans in a suggestive way, or so the MLB believes.
Avila sent a full-count pitch from reliever Bryan Shaw into the right-field stands for his 11th home run and helped the Tigers retain first place in the AL Central.
The Tigers are neck and neck with Kansas City atop the AL Central, and if they win the division they can thank Martinez, who has 21 home runs.
The Tigers six-run third featured Victor Martinez’s infield RBI single, run-scoring doubles by Don Kelly and Alex Avila, a two-run double by Castellanos and Hunter’s run-scoring single.
The Tigers put it away with three runs in the ninth, as J.D. Martinez hit a sacrifice fly and Alex Avila and Don Kelly added RBI singles.