DETROIT (AP) — Chris Herrmann thought he had missed his chance to give the Minnesota Twins a much-needed win in a road series.
But his second RBI double of the game broke an eighth-inning tie and helped the Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 7-6 on Thursday.
With two outs, the Twins catcher lined a ball into the right-center field gap. Center fielder Austin Jackson got a bad break on the ball, and just missed while attempting a shoestring catch. Doug Bernier scored from second to give the Twins the lead.
“I thought I hit it right at him, and it isn’t like he’s going to drop the ball,” Herrmann said. “I still have no idea why it started hooking right, but I’ll take it.”
Jackson took a couple of indecisive steps toward right-center and then realized he was in trouble. He got close, but his style of not diving for balls cost him. He tried to grab the ball off the top of the grass, and couldn’t hang on.
“It looked like the ball fooled Jackson, but that’s one of those crazy plays that you need to beat the Tigers,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Herrmann did a great job to hit that ball off (Drew) Smyly. That guy is really tough against lefties.”
Jackson said the seemingly routine liner somehow turned into a nasty slider.
“I started running for it, and then all of a sudden the ball turned the other way and broke down hard,” he said. “I tried to make a play, but I didn’t want to dive, because if I miss it, the batter ends up on third. That’s the last thing you want to do in that situation.”
Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth, and Glen Perkins got through the middle of the Tigers order in the ninth for his 30th save in 33 chances.
Casey Fien (3-2) earned the win. Bruce Rondon (1-2) took the loss.
Detroit had trailed 6-2 going into the bottom of the sixth, but rallied to tie it on Jackson’s three-run homer. That allowed Justin Verlander to extend his unbeaten streak against the Twins to 11 starts, despite allowing six runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
“Today was tough,” he said. “I’d say frustrating was a good word for it.”
In his last 20 starts, Verlander is 8-7 with a 4.45 ERA. He has talked about finding mechanical flaws, and he had allowed only eight runs in his previous four starts, but things fell apart again on Thursday.
“It has been a real grind for me all season,” Verlander said. “It’s been a real battle. When you look at my numbers and then look at my record (12-9), you realize it could be a lot worse.”
Twins starter Andrew Albers escaped several jams with his assortment of slow and slower pitches, but ran out of gas in the sixth. Throwing a fastball in the mid-80s, a changeup in the 70s, and a slow curve, Albers gave up five runs, nine hits and a walk in 5 2-3 innings.
The Twins needed only eight pitches to take the lead. Brian Dozier just missed a homer on Verlander’s second pitch — the ball hooking just outside of the foul pole — and then singled. Herrmann followed with an RBI double, but Verlander escaped without further trouble.
“It was huge to get that first run,” Herrmann said. “But you know that one run isn’t going to beat the Tigers.”
Detroit killed its own rally in the second inning on a baserunning mistake by Prince Fielder. After lining a ball into the left-center field gap, Fielder tried to stretch the hit into a double, even though Clete Thomas had cut the ball off easily.
Thomas threw to second, and Brian Dozier spun to make a quick tag, only to realize that Fielder was still 20 feet away.
Bryan Holaday tied it in the third with his first career homer, a long drive over the bullpens in left. It also marked Holaday’s first career RBI in his 16th game. Fielder made it 2-1 with an RBI single later in the inning, barely rounding first base before retreating to the bag.
Former Tigers player Wilkin Ramirez got the Twins even in the fourth with a check-swing RBI bloop single, and Ryan Doumit hit a three-run homer over the right-center field video board to give Minnesota a 5-2 lead in the fifth. It was Doumit’s second straight hit against Verlander after an 0-for-12 stretch to start his career.
Holaday beat out an infield single for his second career RBI in the sixth, chasing Albers. Jackson tied the game with a shot off Josh Roenicke’s second pitch.
NOTES: Verlander hadn’t allowed six earned runs to the Twins since June 29, 2007 — a span of 19 starts. He hasn’t lost to them since April 27, 2010. … The Twins said they will recall pitcher Liam Hendriks on Saturday to start in Cleveland. Hendriks has spent most of the season with Triple-A Rochester, but has gone 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA in three starts for the Twins. … C Alex Avila will begin a rehab stint with Triple-A Toledo on Thursday as he continues to recover from a concussion. … C Joe Mauer, on the 7-day concussion list, was cleared by a Tigers team doctor to fly back to Minnesota on Thursday night.