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Updated: May 27th, 2012 4:35pm
Cabrera's ninth-inning homer off Capps spoils gritty effort by Walters

Cabrera's ninth-inning homer off Capps spoils gritty effort by Walters

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- P.J. Walters pitched out of trouble all afternoon, but Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer off Matt Capps in the top of the ninth inning changed the fortune of the Minnesota Twins, who lost 4-3 to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

The skinny

Capps had converted all nine of his save opportunities this season heading into Sunday, but he was unable to secure a 3-2 ninth-inning lead against the top of the Tigers' lineup.

The inning began with an opposite-field, groundball single by Quintin Berry, who stole second base two pitches later. After Andy Dirks flew out, Cabrera drove a 2-0 fastball -- belt-high, middle-in -- over the center field fence for a two-run homer that put the Tigers up 4-3.

"I faced him the other night and he got a base hit on off-speed away, so we were trying to go hard in and didn't get in there quite as well as I needed to. Good hitter," Capps said.

"It sucks. There's nothing fun about this. I don't know. The only way to handle it is to saddle up, show up tomorrow and try to win tomorrow."

Tigers closer Jose Valverde pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win.

"A little flustered here in the clubhouse because we played so hard," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had a lead and just couldn't hold it. ...

"I have confidence in that ball club. ... But definitely got our socks knocked off today a little bit here. That's a tough one when you have a lead like that and you play as hard as we did today and you lose a ballgame. It's always tough when your closer's in the game and you lose a ballgame."

Walters, coming off a complete-game gem in his last outing, struggled to throw strikes for most of the day, but he managed to pitch out of jams and hold the Tigers to only two runs in six innings. Walters gave up seven hits and walked five while striking out four.

The Tigers threatened to break the game open in the middle innings, but Walters was able to stand tall. He loaded the bases and fell behind hitters consistently in the fourth inning with the Twins still trailing 4-0, but he got Don Kelly to hit into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

In the top of the fifth inning the Tigers had runners in scoring position with one out and Walters got Cabrera to pop out, then struck out Brennan Boesch to end the inning after an intentional walk to Fielder loaded the bases.

"I was kind of all over the place, falling behind guys," Walters said. "That leads to hits and walks and everything else. I kind of just built my own trouble and (the defense) was able to turn a few double plays there and get me out of it."

Twins had opportunities in the first three innings to score runs against Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello, but it took until the fourth inning to finally get on the board when Ryan Doumit doubled and later scored on Alexi Casilla's infield single.

Joe Mauer doubled home Ben Revere in the bottom of the fifth, then scored shortly after on an RBI single by Josh Willingham that put the Twins in front, 3-2.

Casilla finished 3-for-3 with a walk, a triple and an RBI. Mauer went 2-for-5 and raised his batting line to .300/.405/.418.

The top of the first inning featured a bizarre sequence of events.

Walters walked leadoff man Quintin Berry to start the game. Andy Dirks delivered a single to put men on the corners, and Miguel Cabrera's base hit to right field gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

As Cabrera walked slowly back to first base, second baseman Alexi Casilla snuck in behind him, caught him snoozing and applied a tag for the first out.

Two batters later, after Prince Fielder walked, Brennan Boesch hit a grounder to Casilla. But instead of throwing to second and attempting to start a 4-6-3 double play -- which wouldn't have been a guarantee -- Casilla first tried to tag Fielder, then threw to first base when Fielder stopped in the middle of the base path. Eventually Fielder was tagged out to complete the double play, but because it wasn't a force out the run was allowed to score from third base, giving the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

After Walters exited, Jared Burton pitched a clean seventh inning and Glen Perkins a clean eighth. Perkins struck out former Twin Delmon Young and also Ryan Raburn to end the frame.

Turning point

With two outs and Casilla on third base in the bottom of the eighth inning, Tigers center fielder Berry made a spectacular diving catch to rob Carroll of an RBI extra-base hit that would have given Capps more room for error.

"It was a big one, and it turned out to be even bigger," Gardenhire said. "That was a super play. He kind of got all corkscrewed out there, but then athletic enough to make a play like that. ...

"Heck of a play. Saved himself a run or two. Jamey looked like he might have -- if the guy hadn't caught the ball -- he might have been able to go all the way around."

Numbers game

2: Stolen bases this season for Willingham, who swiped second base in the fifth.

2-3: The Twins' record against the Tigers.

Health report

RHP Alex Burnett (elbow) could be available to pitch any day now.

Overheard

"I blew it. That one's on me."
- Capps

"Gritty Utility Infielder."
-- Carroll's undershirt during pre-game warm-ups

On deck

Monday: vs. Athletics, 1:10 p.m. LHP Scott Diamond (3-1, 1.78) vs. RHP Graham Godfrey (0-4, 6.16)
Tuesday: vs. Athletics, 7:10 p.m. RHP Cole De Vries (0-1, 5.40) vs. RHP Jarrod Parker (1-2, 3.38)

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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