Cabrera kicks off power display as Tigers top Twins for 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Johnny Damon, Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers had too much power for the Minnesota Twins.

Damon's three-run shot in the fifth inning was Detroit's fourth home run against Nick Blackburn, and the surging Tigers went on to beat Minnesota 7-4 Saturday.

Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first, rookie Alex Avila and Magglio Ordonez followed with solo shots in each of the next two innings and Damon's drive gave the Tigers a four-run lead.

"We hit some mistakes pretty good," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

The AL Central leaders have won five straight overall and 17 of 19 at home. The Tigers are a season-high 11 games over .500 thanks to an AL-best home record of 32-12 that has made up for a 16-25 mark on the road. They've won seven straight series since late May.

"You're supposed to win at home," Cabrera said. "People come here to see you win. ... If we can win more on the road, I think we can win the division."

Even though the Tigers roughed up Blackburn and didn't have to face All-Star slugger Justin Morneau for the second straight game, they couldn't put the game out of reach.

Morneau will miss the All-Star game Tuesday night in Anaheim, Calif., because of a concussion. Cabrera will start in his place at first base.

"To play for somebody that is hurt, I don't like that," Cabrera said.

Morneau was evaluated by Dr. Kenneth Podell, a concussion specialist who consults with pro teams in Detroit, and was advised to rest in Minnesota during the break.

"You're always concerned about a head injury," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The third-place Twins have concerns on the field, too, losing four in a row and seven of nine. They led the division by 4 1/2 games less than a month ago and now trail Detroit by four games.

Minnesota fell to three games over .500 for the first time since April 14 when it was 6-3.

Starting pitching has been the biggest problem.

Blackburn (7-7) allowed seven runs and seven hits over four innings and matched a career high by giving up four homers. He is 1-6 in his last eight starts.

"I'm sick of this," Blackburn said. "Every time I go out there, I'm not getting the job done."

Jeremy Bonderman (5-6) gave up three runs in six innings for the win. All-Star closer Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th straight save since blowing his first opportunity with the Tigers.

Minnesota made some slick plays defensively to keep it relatively close.

Third baseman Nick Punto stopped a shot in the hole, wheeled and threw home to prevent Austin Jackson from scoring in the first, an at-bat before Cabrera hit a line drive over the left-center fence.

The next inning, Punto went to his left to get another grounder and made a throw to first from behind the pitcher's mound one at-bat before Avila's homer.

Poor starting pitching, though, made the gems in the field moot for the slumping Twins.

"Another game where we give up an early touchdown and then have to spend the rest of the game fighting back," Gardenhire said a day after Francisco Liriano gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. "When you give up early runs, you need the pitchers to put up some zeros to give the hitters a chance to get you back into the game, but we didn't do that again."

Orlando Hudson hit a two-run single in the third for Minnesota and Michael Cuddyer had a solo homer the next inning.

Jason Kubel, the only batter to face Tigers reliever Daniel Schlereth, hit a leadoff double in the seventh and scored on Delmon Young's grounder to make it 7-4.

Game notes
Triple Crown candidate Cabrera has a career-high 18-game hitting streak. He is batting .346 with 22 homers and 76 RBIs -- the most by a Tigers player before the All-Star game since Cecil Fielder had one more prior to the 1993 break. ... Kevin Slowey, one of Minnesota's starters, pitched in relief for the first time since 2007. ... Minnesota's Carl Pavano and Detroit's Andy Oliver will start the series finale. ... Miss USA Rima Fakih, of Dearborn, Mich., threw out the ceremonial first pitch.