Tigers Sweep Twins

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Brandon Inge's 10th-inning double off Joe Nathan drove in Timo Perez, pushing the Detroit Tigers past the Minnesota Twins 4-3 on Thursday to complete a three-game sweep of the defending AL Central champions.
Placido Polanco and Gary Sheffield hit back-to-back RBI doubles in the seventh inning for the Tigers, who have baseball's best record -- and a majors-most 32 wins on the road. Todd Jones recorded his 26th save in 30 tries to extend Detroit's lead in the division over third-place Minnesota to nine games.
Jason Kubel homered for the Twins, who got a solid start from Scott Baker and another dominant relief appearance by setup man Pat Neshek -- but nothing to show for them. Center fielder Torii Hunter (hamstring) and right fielder Michael Cuddyer (thumb) were held out of the lineup, which sure didn't help.
Perez, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Toledo before the game, was filling in for left fielder Marcus Thames -- who went to the disabled list with a pulled hamstring. Perez walked to start the 10th against Nathan (3-2), moved up on a sacrifice bunt and came around to score on Inge's double.
Zach Miner (1-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings for the victory, and the Tigers won for the 17th time in their last 21 road games.
Baker's effort on July 1 at Detroit, an eight-inning, three-hit, one-run performance, was wasted in a 1-0 loss -- and it looked like this matchup was headed for the same conclusion.
Jeremy Bonderman, who bested Baker in that last meeting with eight shutout innings, retired the first nine Twins he faced.
Kubel ended an 0-for-16 slump with a double to start the fifth, but his teammates couldn't even advance him to third -- let alone drive him in. Finally, Morneau hit the last of three straight singles against Bonderman in the sixth to give the Twins their first lead of the series.
The lead didn't last for more than a few minutes, because the Tigers put some strong swings on Baker's pitches in the top of the seventh.
Mike Rabelo tripled and scored on Inge's single. Two batters later, Polanco made it 2-1 Detroit with a smash to third base that Nick Punto barely missed stopping with a dive. Sheffield crushed another ball at Punto, who tried to backhand it but let it bounce past him toward the bullpen for a two-base hit.
Baker gave up 10 hits and three runs, walked one and struck out three in 6 1-3 innings.
Minnesota bounced back against Bonderman and tied it at 3 in the seventh, starting with Kubel's homer and ending with Luis Castillo's run-scoring groundout. Bonderman surrendered nine hits, three runs and one walk in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out six.
The Twins, though, missed plenty of opportunities and showed again how badly they need some upgrades to their lineup.
Morneau started the eighth with a double and was on third when Bobby Seay's wild pitch bounced toward the backstop. He dashed for home, then stopped short and retreated -- jerking his shoulder into the throw from the catcher Rabelo. Third base umpire Gary Darling called him out for interference, minutes before Kubel stroked a single up the middle.


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