Twins 7, Tigers 2

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—When Shannon Stewart came to Minnesota, he knew he had a job to do—jump-start the Twins’ offense.

He provided another example of a job well done Sunday.

Stewart reached base three times, including a leadoff walk in a two-run first inning, and hit his 10th home run of the season to lead the Twins to a 7-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Since arriving in a trade with Toronto on July 16, Stewart is hitting .428 with three home runs, nine RBIs and 15 runs scored. He’s reached base in 16 of the 17 games he’s played with the Twins.

“I just wanted to come in here and do my job, try to get on base and score some runs and some things have been happening,” Stewart said.

As a catalyst for the Twins’ often balky offense, Stewart has fit the bill perfectly, much to the delight of manager Ron Gardenhire.

“Pretty much every time up, he’s going to have a quality at-bat,” Gardenhire said. “He seems to be just always on the ball. He takes counts deep and I think a lot of guys are watching that. It’s a pretty good performance from him. He’s really picked us up.”

Johan Santana pitched six solid innings for his first win since moving into Minnesota’s starting rotation.

One day after the Tigers snapped a 16-game losing streak to Minnesota, the Twins scored two quick runs to extend Detroit’s first-inning woes. The Tigers went 1-5 on their trip to Seattle and Minnesota and allowed 22 first-inning runs.

“We’re just not a team capable of falling behind early and getting back into a game,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “Right out of the get-go we’re down. That’s been the trouble the whole second half.”

The Twins, who scored five runs in the first inning Friday, again wasted no time jumping on Tigers starter Matt Roney (1-7). Stewart walked leading off the first, and Luis Rivas drove him home with a triple to right-center. Rivas scored on a broken-bat single by Doug Mientkiewicz to put the Twins ahead 2-0.

Stewart homered in the second, a 421-foot shot to center to give Minnesota a 3-0 lead.

Roney’s short day ended when he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk with nobody out in the third. Steve Sparks relieved and induced a run-scoring double-play grounder by Gomez—the Tigers’ AL-leading 126th double play this season. But Cristian Guzman hit a two-out RBI single and the Twins led 5-0.

“I think I came out a little overanxious—too excited,” Roney said. “They’re a good team. They swing the bat well. For me, every team is tough right now.”

Roney allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in his fifth straight loss. Sparks, who has pitched an AL-leading 77 1-3 innings in relief this year, held the Twins scoreless for four innings before Gomez’s two-run double padded the Twins’ cushion to 7-2 in the seventh.

Santana (5-3) had been 0-2 in four starts since replacing Joe Mays in the rotation on July 11. He gave up two runs and five hits, striking out seven.

The left-hander took a 5-0 lead into the sixth, but gave up Bobby Higginson’s two-run homer and a double by Craig Monroe before striking out the next three hitters.

“He threw a lot of pitches (113) in six innings and he just can’t find his changeup right now,” Gardenhire said. “He went to his fastball there at the end, just blowing it in there, started pumping it up (to) 92, 93. He bowed his neck a little bit as they say and just went after them as hard as he could. He knew it was going to be his last inning and he got through it.

“I think once he finds his changeup a little better he’s going to be an even better pitcher. He’s giving us a chance.”

J.C. Romero, LaTroy Hawkins and Eddie Guardado combined for three innings ofscoreless relief.

Notes

After the game, Minnesota activated 3B Corey Koskie from the 15-day disabled list and optioned infielder Alex Prieto to Triple-A Rochester. … The Tigers were missing two coaches. Third-base coach Juan Samuel left the team to join his wife as she gives birth to the couple’s first child, and bench coach Kirk Gibson left to attend a funeral. Bullpen coach Lance Parrish filled in at third base. … Tigers C A.J. Hinch was in the starting lineup a day after he was activated from the 15-day disabled list. He grounded into a double play inhis first at-bat and went 0-for-4.

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