Liriano looks sharp in win over Tigers

BY foxsports • May 5, 2009

Francisco Liriano finally has something to show for regaining his form.

Liriano had a season-high nine strikeouts and Michael Cuddyer hit a two-run triple in a five-run seventh, leading the Minnesota Twins to a 7-2 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night.

Liriano (1-4) allowed four hits, matching a season low, and two runs over 7 1-3 innings to snap his five-game skid dating to last season.

"This was a great night," he said. "It's a big relief to get the first win out of the way. Now I don't have to worry about that every time I go out there."

Liriano's outing was reminiscent of his outstanding rookie year. He was 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA in 2006 before pain in his left elbow ended his season, leading to Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for 2007 and limited him to 14 games last year.

"It's good to see Frankie pitching with a smile again," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

The Tigers, meanwhile, were somber about their lackluster results at the plate.

"We haven't gotten our offense rolling yet," manager Jim Leyland said. "We've got too many guys not swinging well."

One of those players is Magglio Ordonez, who went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .242 this season. He had a .317 batting average with 103 RBIs last season and hit an AL-best .363 two years ago.

"It's not frustrating," Ordonez said. "I just need to hit."

Miguel Cabrera is doing his part. He hit a solo homer in the sixth inning - his sixth this season - and has a .391 batting average to rank among the AL leaders.

Detroit's Edwin Jackson (1-2) worked six-plus innings, setting season highs with five earned runs and seven strikeouts.

Liriano won for the first time since Sept. 21, 2008, against Tampa Bay and had nine strikeouts for the first time since a start earlier that month against Detroit.

"He's very firm for a left-hander at 91, 92," Leyland said. "His nasty slider, that's been his bread-and-butter pitch over the years. It looks like he's throwing not quite as hard as he used to, but he's very good."

For a change, Jackson got some run support.

After the Twins scored just seven runs in his first five starts this season, tying him with Jackson for the second-worst run support in the AL, they scored seven in the series opener.

"It was really important for us to get him that win," said Denard Span, whose four hits matched his career high. "He's been throwing the ball pretty well, but we haven't gotten him many runs and it always seems like he's had one tough inning."

Cuddyer, who had three RBIs, had two hits for the third straight game.

Jackson allowed a run in the second, then pitched four scoreless innings before getting roughed up in the seventh.

"It was tough early because Jackson was throwing the living fire out of the ball," Gardenhire said. "We got some good swings late, though. We needed that."

Jackson gave up a single and walk to the first two batters of the seventh. After Leyland visited the mound, Joe Crede hit an RBI double and Cuddyer had his two-run triple on the next two pitches.

"They had timely hitting. That's what good teams do," Jackson said. "Crede hit a first-pitch fastball. Cuddyer hit a first-pitch slider that was up."


Twins first base coach Jerry White had to be helped off the field as he kept weight off his right foot after Crede hit a foul ball off him in the eighth inning. "Jerry White is OK," Gardenhire said. "He got hit just below the ankle, and he's going to be sore, but he's fine." ... Detroit 3B Brandon Inge failed to reach base, snapping his 24-game streak that was the longest to start a season for the franchise since Ron LeFlore did it in 30 straight games to open the 1976 season.

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