Liriano rocked early as Twins lose to Detroit 7-5, fall to 2nd in standings
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Tigers scored four runs before Francisco Liriano recorded an out on Monday night, and the Minnesota Twins never fully recovered.
Now, they'll have to recover from second place in the standings.
Liriano gave up six runs on nine hits over six innings as the Twins fell to their American League Central rivals 7-5 -- surrendering the division lead for the first time since April 11.
Jim Thome had an RBI triple and homered, but it otherwise was a frustrating night offensively for the Twins (41-35), who had only one other extra-base hit (Orlando Hudson's first-inning double) and hit into three double plays in the first four innings.
With Magglio Ordonez scratched late, Ryan Raburn, Miguel Cabrera and Brennan Boesch batted 3-4-5 and each drove in two runs to back starter Jeremy Bonderman, who got the win for Detroit (41-34) despite lasting only 5 1/3 innings.
The Tigers bullpen closed the door despite an apparently significant injury to Joel Zumaya's pitching elbow, which sent the set-up man to the ground in agony before he left with assistance from two trainers. Closer Jose Valverde came on and retired the final five batters in order -- three of them on strikeouts.
The trouble started immediately for the Twins, with Liriano plunking leadoff hitter Austin Jackson. Ramon Santiago and Raburn followed with singles, loading the bases, and then Cabrera and Boesch delivered consecutive two-run doubles.
The damage could have been worse, too, but Liriano chased Carlos Guillen's single -- the sixth straight Tiger to reach -- by striking out Brandon Inge and getting Gerald Laird to ground into a double play.
The score was 5-1 before the Twins rallied in the bottom of the fourth, with Thome recording an RBI triple off the side of the videoboard in right-center field and then scoring on Delmon Young's infield single. Then, in the sixth, Thome cut the deficit to 5-4 by slicing a solo home run to left field.
An infield single by Jackson and an error by Hudson on Santiago's sacrifice bunt chased Liriano with no outs in the seventh, and Raburn singled off reliever Matt Guerrier to score Jackson.
The Twins pulled back within a run in the bottom of the seventh, with Hudson singling, advancing to second on a bad pickoff throw by reliever Phil Coke and then scoring on Jason Kubel's flare to right. But Detroit answered again on Laird's solo homer off Guerrier in the top of the eighth.
Nick Blackburn (6-5, 6.10) will go against fellow right-hander Armando Gallaraga (3-1, 3.68) in the middle game of this three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday.