Jamey Carroll hit an RBI single in the 10th inning, and Minnesota beat Detroit 2-1 Sunday night, winning both games of a doubleheader to prevent the Tigers from at least tying the Chicago White Sox atop the AL Central.
"It's still fun and we're still hungry," Jared Burton said after retiring the heart of the Tigers' lineup in order in the ninth inning.
Chicago has a one-game lead in the division despite dropping its fifth in a row on Sunday, a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde (3-4) allowed pinch-hitter Denard Span to lead off the 10th inning with a single and gave up a one-out, run-scoring hit to Carroll.
Burton (2-1) entered in the ninth and got Miguel Cabrera to pop out, quieting an "M-V-P!" chant from the crowd, and struck out Prince Fielder. First baseman Justin Morneau was charged with an error for dropping a fly in foul territory, but Delmon Young couldn't take advantage and grounded out to end the inning.
Glen Perkins pitched a perfect 10th for his 14th save in 17 chances to help the fourth-place Twins win the three-game series.
"To come in in a playoff situation -- whether you're playing for the playoffs or not -- and take two of three from these guys is huge for us," Burton said.
Joe Mauer drove in four runs to help the Twins rally against Max Scherzer and pull away for a 10-4 win in the first game of the day-night doubleheader.
"It was a long day, and we got two nice wins. That was huge," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's a great feeling to get on a plane with."
Detroit got off to a good start in the nightcap.
Cabrera, an AL MVP and Triple Crown contender, hit his second double of the day and his 40th of the season in the home half. He gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead and moved into good company with Hank Greenberg as the only players in franchise history to have at least 40 doubles and 40 homers in a season.
Detroit's dubious defense let the Twins tie it in the fifth inning.
Starting pitcher Drew Smyly fielded a sacrifice bunt with two on, and despite having plenty of time, he sailed a throw up the right-field line that pulled second baseman Ramon Santiago off first and loaded the bases.
The Tigers had a chance to escape the fifth inning without giving up a run, but catcher Alex Avila made a wild throw toward first on what would have been an inning-ending double play -- in part because Matt Carson slid into him aggressively -- and Pedro Florimon scored.
"That has nothing to do with why we lost the game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland insisted.
Twins starter P.J. Walters allowed a run, five hits and a walk over six innings. Brian Duensing and Burton combined to pitch three innings of scoreless relief.
At the start of the doubleheader, Scherzer (6-7) was back on the mound after leaving his previous start after two innings with shoulder fatigue.
The right-hander couldn't get his normally high-90s fastball past 93, but was good enough to hold Minnesota scoreless for five innings only to be let down by his team's shoddy defense.
Cabrera helped the Tigers take a 2-0 lead with an RBI double and a run in the fourth inning, but their notoriously bad defense melted down in the sixth, leading to five Minnesota runs. Ben Revere led off with a fly ball to left that Andy Dirks dropped just short of the wall. By the time Dirks located the ball, Revere was at third with a triple.
Mauer pulled the Twins within 2-1 with an infield single, and Josh Willingham moved him to third with a double. That brought Phil Coke into the game, and he got Morneau to fly to shallow left. Dirks, though, got a very late break, and the ball dropped for a tying single.
Doumit walked to load the bases, and Trevor Plouffe made it 3-2 with a single on Brayan Villarreal's first pitch. The Twins added another run when a third strike got away from catcher Gerald Laird.
Villarreal covered the plate, but stretched for a force out instead of tagging Morneau. He realized his mistake only when home-plate umpire Tom Hallion singled safe.
"That's something I've never seen in 49 years of baseball," Leyland said.
Minnesota broke the game open with a run in the seventh and four more in the eighth.
"We put together three great innings in a row and got ourselves a win," Gardenhire said. "At this point in the season, that's great to see."
Scott Diamond (12-8) allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, and improved his career ERA against the Tigers to 3.07 in four starts. He struck out five.
NOTES: Walters had a "little cramp" during his outing, but stayed in the game. ... Diamond has pitched at least six innings in 20 of 25 starts this season.