Tigers 4, Twins 2

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DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Tigers insist they haven’t given up, though they are playing for little more than pride and perhaps their manager’s job.

Craig Monroe hit a tiebreaking, two-run single with two outs in the eighth inning to lift Detroit to a 4-2 win Wednesday over the Minnesota Twins.

The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep after losing 11 of 13 this month.

“I don’t think anybody has quit, we’re just going through a rough time,” Monroe said. “We owe it to ourselves and our fans to play as hard as we can the rest of the season so that everybody can have something to look forward to by the time spring training rolls around.”

Curtis Granderson’s two-run homer in the third gave the Tigers a lead they clung to until the eighth, when Michael Cuddyer’s two-out single tied the score at 2.

Craig Dingman (2-2) got the final four outs for the victory.

“The wins have been hard to come by and today was no different,” Detroit manager Alan Trammell said.

While there is speculation that Trammell will—or should—be fired, and sports-talk shows are filled with callers saying the former Tigers great should be replaced, he has accepted at least some of the responsibility for what has been a disappointing season.

Victories such as the one over the Twins give Trammell confidence, however, that his players have not quit.

“We’re not mailing it in,” he said.

The Tigers got strong pitching until Vic Darensbourg’s brief appearance with two outs in the eighth.

Joe Mauer and Jacque Jones singled, and Darensbourg was quickly replaced by Dingman, who gave up Cuddyer’s hit before getting out of the inning.

Losing pitcher Juan Rincon (6-5) entered in the eighth and gave up three singles and a walk in the inning.

Detroit starter Sean Douglass allowed one run, four hits and a walk in six innings. Jamie Walker gave up one hit in the seventh and Chris Spurling retired the only two batters he faced in the eighth.

Minnesota’s Francisco Liriano gave up two runs, two hits and a walk while striking out six over five innings in his first major league start. The highly touted prospect, the starting pitcher for the World Team in the Futures Game in Detroit during All-Star week, made his major league debut earlier this month with his first of two relief appearances.

“The nerves have gone away,” Liriano said. “I feel better now.”

Minnesota lefty Johan Santana, who was scheduled to pitch, had his start pushed back to Saturday because of a blister on his middle finger.

Liriano showed why the Twins are excited about him.

With a mid-90s fastball, changeup and slider, he retired his first seven batters, striking out four in a row, before Vance Wilson walked and Granderson homered to give Detroit a 2-0 lead in the third.

Luis Rodriguez’s RBI single pulled Minnesota within a run in the fifth.

Minnesota’s Joe Mays pitched the sixth and seventh, giving up four hits.

“Tough loss for us,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “We pitched good enough to win. We didn’t score enough runs.”

Liriano was acquired in a trade with San Francisco after the 2003 season along with two-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan and right-hander Boof Bonser for catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

“What a trade they made getting Nathan and Liriano and another guy that led the International League in strikeouts,” Trammell said. “They got three quality players for A.J. Pierzynski.

“First impressions, I like (Liriano) kind of like (Seattle’s) Felix Hernandez, who made his debut against us a month or so ago.”


Minnesota 2B Luis Rivas was benched after the third for not chasing a foul ball down the right-field line that 1B Justin Morneau didn’t catch. Morneau was charged with an error. … Detroit was without its closer, Fernando Rodney, who went to Florida to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their child. … Twins RHP Brad Radke is expected to stay in the rotation the rest of the season despite shoulder soreness. … Tigers RHP Jeremy Bonderman (elbow stiffness) had a limited bullpen session before the game, and could return to the rotation early next week in Kansas City. … Detroit 1B Dmitri Young missed his sixth straight game with a leg injury. … The game started after a weather delay of 13 minutes, then there was a 26-minute delay because of rain in the top of the third inning.

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