Twins play spoiler by sweeping doubleheader against 2nd-place Tigers
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DETROIT -- Jamey Carroll hit an RBI single in the 10th inning and the Minnesota Twins beat Detroit 2-1 Sunday, winning both games of a doubleheader to prevent the Tigers from at least tying the Chicago White Sox atop the AL Central.
Chicago still has a one-game lead in the division despite extending its losing streak to five with a 4-1 loss earlier in the day against the Los Angeles Angels.
Detroit closer Jose Valverde (3-4) allowed pinch-hitter Denard Span to lead off the extra inning with a single and gave up a one-out, fall-behind single to Carroll.
Jared Burton (2-1) entered in the ninth and got Miguel Cabrera to pop out, quieting an "M-V-P!" chant from fans standing in the stands and struck out Prince Fielder. First baseman Justin Morneau was charged with an error for dropping a fly in foul territory, but Delmon Young couldn't take advantage and grounded out to end the inning. Glen Perkins pitched a perfect 10th for his 14th save in 17 chances.
Joe Mauer drove in four runs to help the Twins rally against Max Scherzer and pull away for a 10-4 win in the first game.
Detroit got off to a good start in the nightcap.
Cabrera caught a low liner off Morneau's bat to get the third out of the first inning and strand two runners.
The AL MVP and Triple Crown candidate hit his second double of the day and his 40th of the season in the home half, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead and putting him in company with Hank Greenberg as the only players in franchise history to have at least 40 doubles and 40 homers in a season.
Detroit's dubious defense let the Twins tie it in the fifth inning.
Starting pitcher Drew Smyly fielded a sacrifice bunt with two on and despite having plenty of time, he sailed a throw up the right-field line that pulled second baseman Ramon Santiago off first and loaded the bases.
The Tigers had a chance to escape the fifth inning without giving up a run, but catcher Alex Avila made a wild throw toward first on what would've been an inning-ending double play - in part because Matt Carson slid into him aggressively - and Pedro Florimon scored. The Twins, though, ran themselves out of the inning on the same play when Ben Revere got caught too far away from third base and was tagged out.
Both teams blew chances to break the 1-all tie in the sixth.
The Twins had two on and one out, but Al Alburquerque got out of the jam by striking out Ryan Doumit and Morneau.
Detroit also had two on and no out in the home half, but Demon Young made the crowd groan by grounding into an inning-ending double play.
Tigers starter Drew Smyly gave up an unearned run, three hits and two walks in 4 1-3 innings. Alburquerque pitched 2 2-3 innings of scoreless relief. Joaquin Benoit struck out two in two perfect innings.
At the start of the doubleheader, Scherzer (6-7) was back on the mound after leaving his previous start after two innings with shoulder fatigue.
The right-hander couldn't get his normally high-90s fastball past 93, but was good enough to hold Minnesota scoreless for five innings only to be let down by his team's shoddy defense.
"He's still got great stuff, even if he wasn't throwing 97," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's got the great change, a great breaking ball and everything is moving all over the place. We really had to be patient with him."
Despite the diminished velocity, Scherzer insisted he isn't worried about making his final two starts, including game 162.
"They kept me rested this week, so maybe that's why I didn't have my normal zip," he said. "Now I'll be back on the regular program, so hopefully that will get things back to normal."
Cabrera helped the Tigers take a 2-0 lead with an RBI double and a run in the fourth inning, but their notoriously bad defense melted down in the sixth, leading to five Minnesota runs. Ben Revere led off with a fly to left that Andy Dirks dropped just short of the wall. By the time Dirks could locate the ball, Revere was at third with what was ruled a triple.
"I thought I'd be able to stop and make the catch, but the ball kept gaining ground," Dirks said. "I threw my glove up and I hoped I'd get it in the right area. I knew it hit off my glove, and then I hit the wall and didn't know where the ball was, so he gets a triple."
Mauer pulled the Twins within 2-1 with an infield single, and Josh Willingham moved him to third with a double. That brought Phil Coke into the game, and he got Morneau to fly to shallow left. Dirks, though, got a very late break and the ball dropped for a game-tying single.
Doumit walked to load the bases, and Trevor Plouffe made it 3-2 with a single on Brayan Villarreal's first pitch. The Twins then added a bizarre run when a third strike got away from catcher Gerald Laird.
Villarreal covered the plate, but stretched for a force out instead of tagging Morneau. He only realized his mistake when home-plate umpire Tom Hallion singled safe.
"That's something I've never seen in 49 years of baseball," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He saw the batter heading for first and thought it was a force play. He's probably not an expert on the rulebook, to be honest with you."
The fifth run of the inning was scored when Pedro Florimon beat out an inning-ending double play.
Minnesota broke the game open with a run in the seventh and four more in the eighth inning.
"We put together three great innings in a row and got ourselves a win," Gardenhire said. "At this point in the season, that's great to see."
Scott Diamond (12-8) allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings, and improved his career ERA against the Tigers to 3.07 in four starts. He struck out five.
6-0: The Twins' record in doubleheaders this year
20: The number of times Diamond has pitched at least six innings in his 25 starts this season.
RHP Matt Capps (shoulder) is expected to be available out of the bullpen when the Twins return home this week.
Monday: vs. Yankees, 7:10 p.m. RHP Liam Hendriks (1-7, 5.88) vs. LHP Andy Pettitte (4-3, 2.97)© The Associated Press