The Detroit Tigers expected David Price to bolster their postseason chances when they traded for the 2012 Cy Young Award winner this summer.
After winning 11 games with Tampa Bay, though, he has a losing record as a Tigers starter and his latest setback further tightened the AL Central race.
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The left-hander gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings Wednesday night as the Minnesota Twins beat the Tigers 8-4 ahead of Detroit’s big weekend series in Kansas City.
Price (14-12) fell to 3-4 since coming to the Tigers in a July 31 trade with the Rays.
"We’re hoping that with the importance of the next couple of starts that he has, that the adrenaline helps and he’s like he was earlier," manager Brad Ausmus said.
Danny Santana tripled, doubled and drove in two runs for the Twins. Kyle Gibson (12-11) recovered from a rough start to pitch last-place Minnesota to its second straight win over the division leaders.
The Tigers ended the night with a half-game lead over the second-place Royals, who beat the Chicago White Sox 6-2.
"I’m frustrated," Price said. "I’m a better pitcher than this. I’ve just got to be better."
Price looked like a much different pitcher than his previous outing in Minnesota, when he threw eight shutout innings to lead Tampa Bay over the Twins 5-1. This time, he took the mound with a 2-0 lead and promptly allowed three runs in the first.
"I felt good. I just didn’t make enough good pitches, and that’s a tough thing to swallow," Price said. "Especially getting two runs before I even take the mound."
Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera went 4 for 5 with a pair of doubles but was thrown out after Detroit made a costly mistake on the bases in the seventh.
With the Twins up 6-4 and Torii Hunter on first, Cabrera doubled to advance Hunter to third. Victor Martinez grounded to first base and Cabrera — apparently expecting Hunter to break for the plate — was caught off second and tagged out for an inning-ending double play.
"I accept that, full responsibility," Hunter said. "I misled him and that’s my fault."
Santana had three hits and finished a home run short of the cycle. He also scored three times.
Gibson allowed four runs and seven baserunners in the first two innings but retired 10 of the final 13 batters he faced.
"He bowed his neck a little bit as they say, old-school baseball, and he hung in there and got us through six innings," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
Asked about the importance of the upcoming series in Kansas City, Ausmus said: "Nothing needs to be said. There’s not a person in this clubhouse that doesn’t understand the importance of this series."
SETTLING FOR A TRIPLE
Brian Dozier narrowly missed his 21st homer in the sixth when he drove in Santana to put Minnesota up 5-4. The ball hit off the top of the center-field wall and Dozier settled for a triple off reliever Al Albuquerque.
"I thought it was out, but it was a good thing he kept running," said Twins teammate Joe Mauer, who watched the hit from the on-deck circle.
Joe Mauer and Santana each added an RBI single in the eighth for insurance.
Tigers: C Alex Avila missed his third straight game with concussion-like symptoms and remains day to day. … RHP Anibal Sanchez will throw another bullpen session Thursday in Kansas City as he tries to come back from a strained left pectoral muscle. If all goes well, Sanchez is expected to throw a simulated game on Sunday.
Twins: All-Star closer Glen Perkins will have his pitching arm examined Thursday, general manager Terry Ryan told reporters before the game. Perkins blew a chance for his 35th save on Tuesday night when he allowed a three-run homer in the ninth. … INF Eduardo Escobar (shoulder) and OF Oswaldo Arcia (back) are both day to day.
The Tigers announced their starting rotation for the series against Kansas City. Justin Verlander (13-12) will start Friday against LHP Jason Vargas (11-9). Detroit will send Max Scherzer to the mound on Saturday, and Rick Porcello on Sunday.
Minnesota RHP Phil Hughes (15-10) will try to become the sixth AL pitcher to win 16 games on Friday when the Twins begin their weekend series against Cleveland. He’ll face Indians righty Trevor Bauer (5-8).