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Tigers' Hunter haunts Twins

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- In a way, Torii Hunter came full circle during the Tigers' 5-2 win over the Twins on Sunday.

Hunter hit his 300th career homer in the first inning to give the Tigers a lead they wouldn't give up. His first career home run, in 1999, came as a member of the Twins at Detroit's old Tiger Stadium.

"It kind of weird," said Hunter of the coincidences.

It was also another memorable moment for Hunter, in his first season with the Tigers.

"It's special, man," said Hunter, who has only two other home runs this season. "I'm glad I got that monkey off my back. I can go out there and just swing the bat and not go for home runs for a month."

As significant as his first hit of the game was, his second hit had as much meaning for this one day. He doubled in a run in the top of the ninth inning to allow the Tigers to regain a 3-run lead after the Twins had cut the margin to two.

"I've watched him since I was a little kid," said Doug Fister, who allowed two hits in 7 2/3 innings to get the win. "He's just a tremendous player and a great teammate. For me to be a part of that, is such an honor for me."

The milestone was bittersweet for Minnesota fans, who saw Hunter play in a Twins uniform for the first 11 seasons of his career.

"He popped that one pretty good," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. "He's killing me. Not exactly happy when he does it against you. He still plays the game with all the enthusiasm that he played (with) when he was here.

"He's one of the classy guys in the game."

Fister had a pretty special day as well, getting some great plays from the Detroit defense and not allowing a hit until the sixth inning to pick up his first victory since May 14th.

Brian Dozier had the Twins' only hits off Fister, a fourth inning homer and a double with two outs in the eighth. Fister followed Dozier's second hit with a walk to Pedro Florimon and was relieved by Joaquin Benoit, who allowed a run-scoring hit by Clete Thomas before getting out of the jam.

Fister (6-4) struck out seven and walked two. Benoit retired the last four batters he faced for his fourth save in as many chances.

The Tigers got on the board early away when Austin Jackson led off with the single and scored on Hunter's home run, which came in the city he called home for the first 11 years of his career.

Jackson followed with a two-run homer of his own in the fourth inning, a long drive into the left field upper deck.

Both home runs were off Twins starter PJ Walters, who knew he could have been a little better in his fifth start since being promoted from Triple A Rochester on May 25th.

"I'd make a good pitch, then back it up with two bad ones," said Walters (2-2). "It was all day long not locating the ball."

Walters allowed nine hits, struck out four and walked three in 5 1/3 innings.

NOTES: Tigers catcher Alex Avilas was hit by a Brian Duensing pitch on the left forearm just below the wrist in the ninth inning and left the game. His status for Monday's series opener against Baltimore isn't known. ... Twins outfielder Josh Willingham was given Sunday off after getting a cortisone shot in his sore left knee after Saturday's game. The injury is not considered serious and Willingham may be ready to start in the Twins' next game on Tuesday at home against the White Sox. ... Two of Hunter's three home runs this season have come against the Twins. ... Joe Mauer was hitless on Sunday and 1-for-11 in the weekend series against the Tigers. ... The crowd of 39,317 was the second sellout of the season at Target Field, the other coming on Opening Day, also against the Tigers.
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