MINNEAPOLIS -- It took a little while for Detroit's offense to get rolling, but the Tigers used back-to-back three-run innings in the sixth and seventh to down the Twins in an 8-3 win on a drizzly Tuesday night at Target Field.
Detroit is three games out of a Wild Card berth.
The Tigers entered the sixth trailing, 3-2, but broke out for three runs with the help of three wild pitches, including a run-scoring wild pitch from Twins starter Kyle Gibson. Reliever Michael Tonkin gave up a two-run single to Cameron Maybin with two outs to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"We hit some balls good, but we couldn't push too many runs across the plate," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "We bided our time, and eventually we were able to get to [them] and score some runs."
Detroit put away the game with three runs against Tonkin in the seventh, with Erick Aybar connecting on a solo shot and Victor Martinez launching a two-run blast.
The offense backed right-hander Aníbal Sánchez, who went seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Sanchez outpitched Gibson, who went five-plus innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and four walks.
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"I think with every good outing he has, whether it's at home or on the road, it's a building block for him, because he had such a rough go last year and he got off to a rough start this year," Ausmus said. "I think they all kind of build on each other."
The Twins scored twice in the third, keyed by an RBI triple from rookie Jorge Polanco, before taking a brief lead in the fifth on a solo homer from Brian Dozier, but took their fifth straight loss.
"They did a good job of taking close pitches and making me work hard," Gibson said. "Unfortunately, in the fifth and sixth innings, I couldn't make pitches when I needed to. I just kind of lost it my last 15 pitches. I lost the feel, I lost the grip. I couldn't find it back when I needed to."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A wild ride: Down, 3-2, heading into the sixth, the Tigers were finally able to mount a rally to take the lead for good, spurred by three wild pitches and a walk issued by Gibson and Tonkin. Victor Martinez led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a wild pitch before advancing to third on J.D. Martinez's single. Another wild pitch sent the tying run home, and a walk and another wild pitch set the stage for Maybin's two-run single, which capped a three-run inning.
"We'll take it any way we can get it," Ausmus said. "Whether it's control issues or three-run blasts, we'll take it any way we can get it."
Dozier sets career high: Dozier has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since late June, and he continued his power surge with his solo homer in the fifth to give Minnesota a brief one-run lead. It was Dozier's 29th of the season, which established a career high after he launched 28 last season. He also leads the Majors with 21 homers since June 26, which is four more than any player in baseball over that span.
"When you look at where he's at with his composite numbers and go back to the beginning of June, it's pretty phenomenal," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "It's been a great couple of months. He's got a chance to set career highs in a lot of categories despite the struggles early." More >
Power surge: After taking the lead in the sixth, the Tigers pulled away with two long homers in the seventh. Aybar led off the inning with his first homer in a Tigers uniform, which traveled a Statcast-estimated 380 feet into right field. Miguel Cabrera then doubled to left-center before Victor Martinez swatted a 395-foot homer to right, his 23rd of the season, that left his bat at 106 mph. In allowing the two homers, Tonkin became the first Twins reliever to allow 10 homers in a season since Matt Capps in 2011.
Light makes Twins debut: Reliever Pat Light, who was acquired by the Twins in the trade that sent Fernando Abad to the Red Sox, made his debut with his new team in the seventh. The hard-throwing right-hander promptly gave up a single to J.D. Martinez but struck out Justin Upton and got Casey McGehee to fly out to center to end the inning. It was the third Major League appearance for Light, who had given up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings with Boston earlier this season.
"It was one of those situations where I had to get ready quick, but sometimes that's good, with less thinking going into it," Light said. "It was good to get out there, especially after the first couple in Boston, which obviously weren't my best."
"I'm always cringing when he runs hard down the line. But he made it. Ended up hitting a big home run. It's easier for him to run on home runs than on infield singles." -- Ausmus, on Victor Martinez's infield single in the second inning
Tigers: Left-hander Matt Boyd (4-2, 3.93 ERA) has been on a roll, as he has allowed three earned runs or fewer in his last eight appearances, including seven starts. He allowed one run in six innings to the Red Sox in his last start but settled for a no-decision in a 4-3 Detroit victory.
Twins: Right-hander Tyler Duffey (8-9, 5.93 ERA) has been better recently. with a 4.32 ERA over his last three starts, but he struggled last time out. He was perfect through 3 1/3 innings against the Royals, only to allow five runs in the fourth.
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