Justin Morneau, Trevor Plouffe help power Twins to sweep of Tigers
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DETROIT - 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 Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon at Comerica Park.
P.J. Walters (1-1) gave up four hits - including three solo homers - in 6 1-3 innings for the Twins, who swept the two-game series. The Twins (12-26) have 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 home run off Doug Fister (0-2) opened the scoring in the third, and Trevor Plouffe followed with another homer. The Twins led 4-0 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, who lost his job in the starting rotation, came on with two on and one out in the seventh and got pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago to hit into a double play. "I looked at it as success and a big smile on his face," Gardenhire said. "We need to see more of that because the young man can pitch. ... We need to get him going."
The Tigers were hoping for a strong start from Fister after giving up 19 runs in their previous two games against the Twins and Chicago White Sox, but the Detroit righthander was in trouble from the start.
The Twins 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 because of 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 because of a left side strain, hadn't given up a run at Comerica since Aug. 30.
The Twins 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.
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.
• April 11-12: The only other time this season the Twins have won back-to-back games. Those victories came at Target Field against the Los Angeles Angels.
• 6: Number of victories the Twins have at home and on the road this season.
• 3: Hits for catcher Drew Butera in four at-bats on Thursday, giving him a .350 average in seven games.
• After seeing results of the MRI done on Ryan Doumit's strained right calf, the decision was made not to put the catcher on the disabled list. Doumit, however, did not play after being injured Wednesday.
• RHP Nick Blackburn was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday because of a left quadriceps strain after leaving Wednesday's game following two innings.
• Capps wasn't available Wednesday because of some soreness in his arm but he returned Thursday to pitch a scoreless ninth inning.
• Friday: @ Brewers, 7:10 p.m. Twins LHP Scott Diamond (2-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Brewers RHP Marco Estrada (0-2, 4.20).
• Saturday: @ Brewers, 3:10 p.m. Twins RHP Carl Pavano (2-3, 5.14) vs. Brewers RHP Yovani Gallardo (2-4, 5.04).
• Sunday: @ Brewers, 1:10 p.m. Twins RHP Jason Marquis (2-3, 6.68) vs. Brewers RHP Zack Greinke (4-1, 2.88).© The Associated Press