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Tigers lock up playoff berth win 4-2 win

The SportsXchange

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Detroit Tigers clinched a spot in the playoffs with a 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night at Target Field.

The Tigers hit three home runs in the fourth inning off Twins starter Scott Diamond to take the lead. It would be all they needed.

The Tigers collected 11 hits in the game, and the first two batters at the top of the order, Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter, had six of them.

"It was a great tonight," Hunter said. "You know Scott Diamond, he's pretty tough. He reminds me a little bit of Cliff Lee. He has a sneaky fastball and a good changeup and good off-speed. We were able to capitalize on some mistakes that one inning that we scored some runs and we held the lead."

The win put the Tigers in the postseason for the third consecutive year. They can win the American League Central with one more victory in their five remaining games.

"It's hard, but we're still going," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We just have to keep playing. Another dramatic win. (The Indians) are not going to go away. We have to win another game -- that's the way I look at. The way they have been going, they could possibly run the table, so we've got to win another game."

Aside from the long balls in the fourth inning, Diamond held the Tigers at bay. He threw 101 pitches in 6 1/3 innings, giving up four runs, nine hits and one walk with three strikeouts.

But Tigers pitcher Doug Fister was better, holding the Twins to two runs in his 6 1/3 innings. Fister threw 109 pitches, giving up eight hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.

"He's just a bulldog, he doesn't give you anything," Leyland said. "He's an athlete and he just competes. He did a whale of a job."

The Twins could not get untracked against Fister until the seventh when Ryan Doumit got his second extra-base hit of the game -- a home run into the right field plaza (his 14th homer of the season).

But the Tigers bullpen went to work shortly after Doumit's homer and shut down the Twins the rest of the way.

"We struck out 14 times -- you can't do that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's hard to win baseball games when you do that. Every time we got men up there, too many strike outs. Their guy was throwing the ball pretty good."

Bruce Rondon struck out the side in the eighth and Joaquin Benoit came on in the ninth to pick up his 23rd save.

"How about Rondon not pitching for 20 days and come in like he did," Leyland said. "He was unbelievable. Everybody is going to get excited about what he did. I am too, but you have to be careful. This guy just came off a little elbow injury. I can't get greedy with him (because) I have to be careful."

The Twins escaped from a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the top of the second and then broke open the scoring in the bottom of the inning. Doumit laced a double into the left-center field gap and then scored on Chris Parmelee's single to right.

In the fourth, Victor Martinez extended his hitting streak to 11 games, smashing a home run over the left field fence -- his 14th homer of the season. Four pitches later, Omar Infante followed with his 10th homer of the season for a 2-1 Tigers lead.

Diamond was not out of the inning. Ramon Santiago singled and then scored on Austin Jackson's homer into the center field bullpen for a 4-1 lead.

"That's a strong lineup; everyone was contributing," Diamond said. "I didn't execute when I needed to."

NOTES: Gardenhire entered the game two wins shy of 1,000 in his career. ... The Tigers needed a win and an Indians loss to clinch the AL Central title. The Indians won their game and the Tigers' magic number is now one. ... Detroit's Prince Fielder played in his 501st consecutive game -- the longest active streak in the major leagues. ... The Twins have 84 hits in their previous nine games (since Sept. 15), which is the sixth most in baseball during that period. The team has a 3-6 record during that span. ... The Tigers lead the season series against the Twins 10-8.
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