Twins 4, Tigers 3

After a home run by one of his best hitters and strong effort

from the bullpen, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire was in good

spirits in his office.

The Twins have little time to waste if they want to avoid

another lost season, but sweeping two games in Detroit against the

defending AL Central champions was a small step in the right

direction.

”We had some good things happen – a good couple of wins here,”

Gardenhire said. ”This is a great team. This is the team

everybody’s picked to win this division, and you come in here and

you win a couple of ballgames against them, and you go toe to toe

with them. It’s a good feeling. It’s something we can kind of build

off of.”

Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer in his second game back from

a wrist injury, and the Twins held on for a 4-3 victory over the

Tigers on Thursday in the finale of a two-game series. Minnesota

jumped ahead 4-0 and held on through some tense moments in the late

innings.

P.J. Walters (1-1) allowed four hits – including three solo

homers – in 6 1-3 innings for the Twins, who have won two in a row

for only the second time this season. They’re 12-26 in 2012 after

losing 99 games last year.

Morneau’s homer off Doug Fister (0-2) opened the scoring in the

third, and Trevor Plouffe followed with a long ball. Minnesota

added another run in the fifth before the Tigers came back with

homers by Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks and Prince Fielder.

”I don’t like to give up home runs, but the offense gave me a

little room to work with there, so it didn’t hurt us,” Walters

said.

Three relievers finished for the Twins, with Matt Capps pitching

a perfect ninth for his eighth save.

Francisco Liriano came on with two on and one out in the seventh

and got pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago to hit into a double play. Glen

Perkins walked the first two Detroit hitters in the eighth on nine

pitches, but he struck out Fielder, and Delmon Young hit into a

double play to end that inning.

”The only thing that has been consistent for this team is the

inconsistency, and that’s mind boggling to me,” Tigers manager Jim

Leyland said. ”We just aren’t putting together the combinations

that we need to win.”

The Tigers were hoping for a strong start from Fister after

allowing 19 runs in their previous two games against the Twins and

Chicago White Sox, but the Detroit right-hander was in trouble from

the start.

Minnesota left the bases loaded in the first, and Fister got out

of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the second after he stepped

toward third and threw back to first to catch Jamey Carroll off

base for the second out of the inning.

With two outs in the third, Morneau and Plouffe hit back-to-back

homers. Morneau’s opposite-field shot was his fifth homer of the

year and first since coming off the disabled list. He returned to

the lineup Wednesday night after being on the DL since May 1 with a

sore left wrist.

”Him driving the ball the other way is huge,” Gardenhire said.

”He starts getting a little pull happy at times, and if he’s

staying on the ball like that and gets the barrel on it, that’s all

he has to do is put a nice swing on the ball.”

Fister, who missed most of April with a left side strain, hadn’t

allowed a run at Comerica Park since Aug. 30.

Minnesota added a crucial run in the fifth after Fielder failed

to catch Fister’s throw to first on Josh Willingham’s tapper.

Willingham went all the way to third on the play, and Morneau drove

him home with a groundball.

Fister allowed four runs – three earned – and nine hits in six

innings. He struck out five and walked two.

Boesch’s homer in the bottom of the inning was Detroit’s first

hit off Walters. Dirks and Fielder added solo shots of their own in

the sixth.

NOTES: Boesch extended his hitting streak to 10 games. …

Detroit RHP Luis Marte (left hamstring strain) has been assigned to

Class A Lakeland as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment.

… Detroit sends Justin Verlander (4-1) to the mound Friday to

start a three-game series against Pittsburgh. Charlie Morton (2-3)

starts for the Pirates. … The Twins are at Milwaukee. Scott

Diamond (2-0) will start for Minnesota on Friday against Marco

Estrada (0-2).