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Anibal, bullpen can't contain Twins in Tigers' loss

Starter, who had his last start skipped, exits after just 3 2/3 innings

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins, who were shut out the day before, came alive Saturday night as the Tigers gave up a combined six runs on 14 hits -- including four extra-base hits -- in a 6-3 Detroit loss at Target Field.

Despite the loss, Tigers manager Jim Leyland thought his team performed decent enough -- the game simply got a little out of hand.

"We actually swung the bats pretty good, I thought, we just didn't score enough runs," Leyland said. "We kind of let it get away a little bit."

Starter Anibal Sanchez fought through 3 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on five hits. He walked four and struck out three on 72 pitches. Sanchez, who missed his last start Sunday due to muscle stiffness near his shoulder, was pulled early as a precautionary measure, not because he aggravated the muscle.

"I wanted to be careful with Sanchez," Leyland said. "The good news is he's healthy. He felt fine, probably a little sluggish just trying to get his rhythm back and mechanics back. He had been idle for a while."

"I'm feeling good," Sanchez said. "I don't have my power at the moment, but at the end, I'm just painless."

After a brief outing for Sanchez, Leyland then relied on his bullpen, which has drawn criticism of late. With plenty of quality starts coming from the rotation, the 'pen hasn't seen a ton of work this season, and when it has, it has often struggled.

The offense did give Sanchez some cushion, as it jumped on the board first with hits from both Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta in the fourth inning. Miguel Cabrera led off the inning and was hit by an errant Samuel Deduno pitch. Fielder plunked a base hit to left field, moving Cabrera to third. Two batters later, Peralta drove a broken-bat hit up the middle to score Cabrera and Fielder -- who moved to second on a Victor Martinez groundout.

Detroit briefly hung onto the 2-0 lead, as the Twins tied it up in the bottom of the fourth. Justin Morneau led off with a base hit and was brought in two batters later on a Trevor Plouffe home run to left. Saturday was Plouffe's first game since returning from the DL with a strained left calf. Plouffe went 3-for-3 with a home run, a double and three RBIs.

"First thing was winning -- we wanted to win this game and I wanted to contribute any way I could," Plouffe said. "To be able to come up offensively was good for us, and Sammy pitched his butt off again. So when you mix those things together, it's a good night."

Left-hander Darin Downs -- who stepped in for Sanchez in the fourth -- worked 2 1/3 innings and also gave up five hits, but allowed three runs and struck out four.

"I felt good out there," Downs said. "… I haven't gotten too many opportunities lately. I know I need to throw more than guys who go out every night."

Downs gave up three hits to lead off the sixth -- a double to Plouffe, a single to Chris Parmelee and a single to Brian Dozier that scored Plouffe to give the Twins a 3-2 lead. They didn't let up, as a sacrifice bunt from Pedro Florimon moved Parmelee and Dozier to third and second respectively, and Joe Mauer brought them both in on a single.

Right-hander Evan Reed was next to fall victim to the Twins' offense when he took over in the seventh inning. Through one inning of work, Reed gave up one run on three hits, as Plouffe followed an Oswaldo Arcia double with an RBI single.

The Tigers added one more in the eighth, as Cabrera crossed the plate on a two-base throwing error after reaching on a one-out double.

Right-hander Deduno went deep for the Twins, with two runs on seven hits over seven innings. He struck out two, walked one and hit one batter.

The Tigers also ran into a few outs, as they were nailed at the plate on two occasions. In the third, Don Kelly tried to score on an Alex Avila grounder to Florimon, who caught him at home. Fielder attempted to score in the sixth on a base hit from Kelly, but was caught as Parmelee's throw beat him.

"That was huge," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of throwing out Fielder. "As soon as the ball was hit, Parmelee was cheating toward that hole, and we were in the dugout yelling for him to throw him out. Fortunately for us he got rid of it quick and it was really accurate."

Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for
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