Bullpen saves the day

Punto drives in pair of runs in another one-run victory

Associated Press

DETROIT — The Twins hoped they didn’t have to use Matt Guerrier and his bullpen mates after a long outing the previous night. They hardly showed any sign of fatigue.

Guerrier, Jesse Crain and closer Joe Nathan retired the last seven Detroit batters Friday night to help Minnesota win its second straight against the Tigers, 3-2. The win came a day after the trio threw a combined 81 pitches in five frames of an 11-inning victory.

"We’ve all pretty much worked hard innings but we had to be ready for anything tonight," said Guerrier, who made his fifth appearance in seven games but struck out the first two batters when he faced the heart of Detroit’s order in the eighth.


The win drew Minnesota within 1 1/2 games of the AL Central-leading White Sox, who lost Friday at Texas.

Crain came on with two on in the seventh in relief of Glen Perkins (6-2) and got Carlos Guillen to fly out to the deepest part of the park. Carlos Gomez made the catch at the warning track — about 415 feet from the plate — to end the threat.

Nathan, an All-Star, earned his 26th save in 28 chances with a perfect ninth.

As good as his relievers were, manager Ron Gardenhire was glad Perkins was able to last as long as he did.

"It was a very exciting ballgame again," said the manager, whose team has beaten the Tigers four straight times. "It was all Perkins. We needed that performance."

Perkins won his second straight start — he’s 2-0 against Detroit in three outings this season — after allowing six hits.

"They got to me late," he said, "but Crain came in and bailed me out."

Nick Punto had RBIs in the fourth and sixth innings before Delmon Young added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.


Alexi Casilla had three hits for the Twins, who have won 18 of their last 23 games.

Guillen drove home the game’s first run with a third-inning single but Minnesota answered an inning later when Punto hit an RBI double.

Punto made it 2-1 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth off rookie starter Armando Galarraga (7-3). Young’s sacrifice fly came off Aquilino Lopez and made it 3-1.

The Tigers appeared poised to tie the game or take the lead after loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh but only could manage Placido Polanco’s sacrifice fly.

Detroit (46-46), which is 4-9 against Minnesota this season, got just three runners into scoring position before the seventh. The loss dropped the club back to the .500 mark.

"Our offense just didn’t do anything," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Too many of our guys had oh-fors.

"We didn’t make any opportunities for ourselves. We just didn’t do enough."

Galarraga gave up two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He hasn’t won since June 18.


"They are a team of patient hitters and they were able to get my pitch count up, which put me out of my rhythm," he said of the Twins. "You have to give them credit."

• Twins 1B Justin Morneau was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks. The All-Star first baseman has reached base nine times in 11 appearances during the current series. ... Detroit CF Curtis Granderson’s hitting streak ended at eight games. ... The Tigers agreed to terms with RHP Rick Perry, the 21st overall pick in the 2008 draft. ... Twins OF Denard Span is hitting .454 (15-for-33) with five RBIs since being recalled from triple-A Rochester. His fourth-inning flyout ended a streak of reaching base safely at eight plate appearances.

Page B2: Box score.

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