DETROIT — Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe hit homers in a five-run third and Ryan Doumit had a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh inning, lifting the Minnesota Twins to an 8-6 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.
Joe Mauer had three hits, including a solo homer to lead off the ninth that gave the Twins a two-run lead and helped earn a season-high, five-game winning streak.
Jeff Gray (5-0) gave up only one hit in two innings after starter Nick Blackburn gave up six runs and eight hits over four innings. Kyle Waldrop and Tyler Robertson each pitched another innings of scoreless relief and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth inning for his fourth save in six chances.
Brayan Villarreal (3-2) took the loss by giving up Doumit's sacrifice fly, the only run he gave up in two innings of relief. Duane Below, starting for scratched starter Max Scherzer, gave up five runs – one earned – and five hits in 2 2-3 innings.
Detroit has dropped back-to-back games to the Twins after pulling within a game of .500 with five wins in an eight-game stretch of success.
Minnesota took a 1-0 lead in the first on Willingham's sacrifice fly. Detroit went ahead 3-1 in the second on Ryan Raburn's RBI double and Brennan Boesch's two-run single.
The Tigers lost the lead in in the next inning, giving up five runs with two outs because of four hits, a balk, wild pitch and costly miscue in the field. Detroit shortstop Ramon Santiago had a chance to keep the Twins scoreless in the third, but his fielding error allowed Ben Revere to score and extend the inning.
Willingham followed with his 18th homer and Plouffe, the first to face called-up reliever Jose Ortega, cleared the fences for the 19th time this season go put Minnesota ahead 6-3.
Boesch had a solo homer and Austin Jackson followed with a game-tying, two-run shot in the fourth inning.
Following two scoreless innings for both teams, Doumit's fly put the Twins ahead for good in the seventh.
NOTES: The Tigers recalled Ortega from Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday and purchased the contract of LHP Darin Downs from the Mud Hens. They sent RHP Luis Marte and IF Danny Worth to Toledo and designated Toledo OF Matt Young for assignment to make room for Downs on the 40-man roster. ... Downs made his major league debut in the ninth – walking one and striking one – to complete a comeback from having a fractured skull and brain swelling after getting hit by a line drive while pitching for Tampa Bay's Double-A team in 2009. ... The Twins optioned RHP Liam Hendriks (0-5, 7.04 ERA) to Triple-A Rochester on Tuesday and recalled RHP Cole De Vries. ... Scherzer, who injured his left hamstring while running on the turf in Tampa, said he fully expects to make his next start Sunday at home against Kansas City. ... The game started after being delayed by rain for 1 hour and 30 minutes.