Torii Hunter's 300th career homer helps Tigers take series from Twins
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Torii Hunter's first career home run came with the Minnesota Twins, against Detroit at Tiger Stadium. On Sunday, he reached another career milestone with home run No. 300, this time at Target Field against the Twins as a member of the Tigers.
Hunter added a double and drove in three runs for the Tigers, who beat Minnesota 5-2.
The homer was Hunter's third this season and his first since hitting No. 299 against the Twins on May 26.
"It's special," Hunter said. "I just wanted one. To get 300 home runs in the major leagues ... this is a tough game to play."
Hunter provided plenty of support for Doug Fister (6-4), who held Minnesota hitless until the sixth inning.
Fister allowed two runs and two hits -- both to Dozier -- in 7 2/3 innings. He struck out seven, walked two and won for the first time in his last six starts.
"They hit a lot of balls hard," Fister said. "Luckily for me it was right at guys."
Joaquin Benoit pitched the final 1 1/3 innings, earning his fourth save.
P.J. Walters (2-2) gave up four runs on nine hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Minnesota tried to rally with two outs in the eighth as Dozier doubled and Pedro Florimon walked to chase Fister after 110 pitches. Clete Thomas followed with an RBI single off Benoit, but Joe Mauer flied out to strand a pair of runners.
Benoit pitched a perfect ninth. Regular Tigers closer Jose Valverde warmed up alongside Benoit in the eighth, though he pitched in a non-save situation on Friday and blew his last save opportunity Wednesday at Kansas City.
"Benoit had a little better repertoire for the hitters that were coming up for the Twins," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "That's why I decided to stay with him."
Pressed on the decision, Leyland said he wasn't going to discuss the closer role, but noted Valverde is still in the ninth-inning mix.
"I felt like the best option to close the game was Benoit," Leyland said. "That was today. I can't worry about anything other than winning games."
Detroit jumped ahead early when Austin Jackson led off with a single and Hunter followed with his homer.
"He's killing me," a smiling Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Not exactly happy when he does it against you, but I'm proud of him. He started in this organization and has had a heck of a career.
"You just tip your hat to him. One of the classiest guys in the game."
Jackson added a two-run homer of his own in the fourth inning, his first since April 28, giving him multiple hits in back-to-back games for the first time since mid-April. The Detroit center fielder returned to the lineup Friday after missing more than a month with a strained left hamstring.
Detroit catcher Alex Avila snapped an 0-for-19 skid with a second-inning double and singled in his next at-bat, marking just his third extra-base hit and second multihit game since May 10.
Avila left the game in the ninth inning after being hit in the left hand by a pitch from Brian Duensing. Leyland said preliminary X-rays were negative, but Avila said he'd undergo additional X-rays upon returning to Detroit.
Twins OF Josh Willingham was out of the lineup after receiving a cortisone shot in his balky left knee after Saturday's game. He expects to return to the lineup on Tuesday. ... Leyland reiterated his concern with Anibal Sanchez's reduced velocity on his return from shoulder tightness on Saturday following an 11-day layoff. `'It just didn't look right," Leyland said Sunday. Sanchez said he felt fine after the game. ... Minnesota has an off-day Monday before hosting a three-game series against the White Sox. Mike Pelfrey (3-6, 6.12 ERA) will start Tuesday for the Twins. Pelfrey is 0-3 in his last seven starts. Dylan Axelrod (3-4, 4.26) will counter for Chicago, looking to rebound from allowing a season high-tying six earned runs to Toronto in his last outing. . Detroit returns home to begin a series Monday against Baltimore. The Tigers will send Max Scherzer (9-0, 3.19) to the mound. Scherzer gave up three earned runs and struck out 10 Orioles in a no-decision at Baltimore on May 31. Jason Hammel (7-4, 5.24) will start for the Orioles. Hammel allowed served up a season-high three homers and five runs in a season-low three innings vs. Detroit on June 1.© The Associated Press