Twins 8, Tigers 5

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DETROIT (AP)—The Minnesota Twins are playing with confidence.

“We’re playing pretty good baseball right now. I don’t care if we are playing Detroit or who we are playing, it’s tough to beat us,” Matthew LeCroy said after Sunday’s 8-5 win over the Tigers.

Terry Tiffee, Torii Hunter and Cristian Guzman homered for the Twins, who are 11-7 against Detroit this year and 55-19 since 2001. The Twins have won five straight over the Tigers going into Monday’s series finale.

“We’re definitely sick of those guys,” Detroit’s Carlos Pena said. “We’ve been playing good baseball against them, but it never seems to be enough. They always get the key hits and they get the big outs.”

Minnesota (82-60) won its fifth straight overall to improve to a season-best 22 games over .500 and ensure its fourth straight winning season.

“If we keep winning games, no one can catch us,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Detroit (64-77) dropped a season-low 13 games under .500 and needs 17 wins in its last 21 games to avoid an 11th straight losing season.

“We’ve got some injuries right now, and we were a little down even before that,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “Now we are playing a team that is heading to the postseason. That’s not a great matchup.”

Terry Mulholland (5-8) allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2-3 innings, then turned it over to his bullpen.

“I’m really happy to see us playing this kind of baseball,” Mulholland said. “We’re getting timely hitting and timely defense, and everyone that’s taking the ball on the mound seems to be doing the job.”

J.C. Romero got two outs in the ninth before pinch-hitter Ivan Rodriguez singled in a run to end Romero’s team-record scoreless streak at 36 2-3 innings, since he allowed a run June 11 against Philadelphia.

“I wasn’t really thinking about it,” Romero said. “I think (the media) was making a bigger deal out of it than I was. The streak is over now, but I have to keep pitching.”

Joe Nathan finished for his 42nd save in 45 chances, striking out Brandon Inge with runners on second and third.

Nate Robertson (12-9), attempting to become the first Tigers left-hander to win 13 games since Justin Thompson had 15 victories in 1997, gave up six runs and a season-high 10 hits in four innings.

“Nate was not sharp,” Trammell said. “I’m sure he’s a little fatigued at this point of the season, but that’s part of playing this game.”

Minnesota went ahead on LeCroy’s RBI double in the first, then added four runs in the third. Tiffee hit his second career homer, a two-run drive, Michael Cuddyer hit an RBI double and Pat Borders had a run-scoring single.

Jason Smith’s RBI single in the bottom half made it 5-1, but Hunter and Guzman hit solo homers in the sixth. Guzman has homered in consecutive games after going 106 at-bats without any.

Marcus Thames hit a three-run homer in the bottom half. Augie Ojeda hit an RBI single in the ninth off John Ennis.

Notes

Lew Ford walked four times, one short of the Twins record. … The Tigers called up three players from Double-A Erie, which was eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday. RHP Roberto Novoa and INF Ryan Raburn were recalled and Detroit purchased the contract of OF Curtis Granderson. Novoa pitched nine times for Detroit earlier in the year, and threw a scoreless inning Sunday. Raburn struck out as a pinch-hitter in his major-league debut. … Tigers SS Carlos Guillen, who injured his right knee Saturday, is expected to miss at least 10 days.

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