DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers know there's a lot of baseball left this season and they're far from wrapping up the AL Central.
Their latest win, however, on a sweltering Sunday was especially sweet.Placido Polanco hit a go-ahead single in the eighth inning and Detroit held on for an 8-7 win over the Minnesota Twins."That's a helluva of a win," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who usually downplays the significance of every win and every loss. "Down 3 to nothing on a hot day, beat up last night 11 to nothing, they showed me something today."I'm proud of them."The AL Central-leading Tigers have won five of seven games to keep their lead over the Chicago White Sox and build a cushion atop the third-place Twins."Every win is big for us now," said Miguel Cabrera, who hit his 23rd homer of the season. "But we can't say the Twins are out of it because they have a good team and there's a lot of games left."Minnesota has lost seven of nine -- giving up an average of nine runs in the setbacks -- to trail the Tigers by 5 1/2 games after being behind by just two games before the slide."It's pitching, pitching, pitching," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.Brandon Lyon (5-4) pitched a scoreless eighth and Fernando Rodney closed the game for his 23rd save in 24 chances.Matt Guerrier (5-1) gave up a leadoff double to catcher Gerald Laird in the eighth.Gardenhire then chose to walk free-swinging Curtis Granderson to face a contact hitter in the hopes of getting a double play, and Polanco made him pay for the decision with a bloop single to right to put Detroit ahead 7-6.Gardenhire didn't regret the decision with Guerrier on the mound."Granderson has really good numbers against him," he said. "Got to try and get a double play there."Clete Thomas followed with an RBI groundout to give the Tigers a two-run cushion, which proved to be valuable because Michael Cuddyer hit his second homer of the game in the ninth to pull the Twins within a run.Minnesota's Scott Baker gave up six runs to match a season high and nine hits over just 4 1/3 innings in his shortest outing in a month. Bobby Keppel kept the Twins in the game with 2 2/3 scoreless innings.Cuddyer hit a game-tying single in the seventh and made it 8-7 with a homer off Rodney in the ninth.In between, Leyland intentionally walked hot-hitting Denard Span with no outs in the eighth to face Orlando Cabrera after he extended his career-long hitting streak to 19 games."I wouldn't let a guy who had [nine] hits in two games beat me," Leyland said. "If Cabrera did it, I could've lived with it."Detroit and Minnesota combined to score 11 runs between the fourth and seventh innings, making it 6-all.Cuddyer and Delmon Young hit homers to center off Jarrod Washburn on consecutive pitches in the fourth inning to give the Twins a 3-0 lead in the fourth.Detroit had four hits against Scott Baker in a five-pitch stretch of the home half, starting with Marcus Thames' 100th career homer, to help it go ahead by a run."They hit a lot of first pitches and he didn't make the adjustment," Gardenhire said.Baker agreed."They became pretty aggressive," he said. "And, I left some balls in the middle of the plate."Washburn gave up five runs and 10 hits over six innings in his second start since being acquired to bolster the Tigers' rotation. He gave up six runs in his Detroit debut, an 8-2 loss to Baltimore."A little better than start No. 1," Washburn said. "It wasn't terrible. We won and that's all that matters."
Leyland said "people who care about it probably don't like baseball," during a wide-ranging discussion about baseball's drug scandal before the game. ... Twins LHP Glen Perkins, who pitched Saturday, had stiffness in his shoulder warming up and will have a MRI when the team returns to Minnesota. ... Granderson has at least 20 stolen bases and 20 homers for the second time in his career, joining Kirk Gibson (four) and Alan Trammell (two) as the players in franchise history to pull off the feat multiple times. ... Baker was 2-0 after giving up just four runs in his previous four starts. ... Polanco had at least three hits for the ninth time this season and extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Cuddyer homered twice for the third time in his career and first since 2006 and had four hits for the fourth time this season.