Twins beat struggling Tigers 4-3

So far, the 2012 Detroit Tigers look nothing like the juggernaut

the Motor City was hoping for.

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

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

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

that we need to win.”

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

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

over the Tigers on Thursday. Detroit fell two games under .500 and

now trails first-place Cleveland by four in the AL Central. Detroit

won the division by 15 last season.

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

homers – in 6 1-3 innings for the Twins, who swept the two-game

series at Comerica Park. Minnesota (12-26) has won two in a row for

only the second time this season.

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

Twins manager Ron 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.”

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

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

4-0 before the Tigers came back with homers by Brennan Boesch, Andy

Dirks and Prince Fielder.

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 Prince Fielder, and Delmon Young hit

into a double play to end that inning.

Detroit, which signed Fielder in the offseason after reaching

the AL championship series a year ago, is 9-17 since a 9-3

start.

”We made some mistakes today, and when you aren’t playing well,

those will come back to bite you,” Leyland said. ”When you are

playing well, you overcome things like that and you win the

game.”

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. It was Morneau’s fifth 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.

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

allowed a run at Comerica since Aug. 30.

”It was about executing pitches,” Fister said. ”I couldn’t

keep the ball down. It’s a constant battle, and today I didn’t

execute pitches.”

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 error, which was

charged to Fielder, and Morneau drove him home with a

groundball.

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.

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

innings. He struck out five and walked two.

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

Detroit OF Austin Jackson was out of the lineup with an abdominal

strain. … 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).