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Tigers make Twins pay for walking Cabrera

The SportsXchange

DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera is going so good for Detroit right now, he beats teams when they pitch to him, and he beats them when they don't.

Cabrera stretched his home run streak to four games Thursday night with a two-run shot in the first, but it was a pair of walks in the seventh and eighth innings that set the Tigers up for four runs and a comeback 7-6 victory over the Minnesota Twins, who lost their ninth straight game.

Singles by Omar Infante leading off the seventh and eighth began the rallies.

In the eighth, manager Jim Leyland ordered up a sacrifice bunt by Torii Hunter, knowing his Minnesota counterpart, Ron Gardenhire, would walk Cabrera intentionally.

"I never like to take the bat out of Cabrera's hands," Leyland said, "but you've got 40 RBI sitting behind him (Prince Fielder), and that's pretty good."

That left Jared Burton (0-2) pitching to Fielder, and the Detroit first baseman hit a sharp grounder that glanced off the reliever's glove into short right field. Second baseman Brian Dozier, who had been going toward second to field what he thought might be a potential double-play grounder, skidded to the ground as he reversed his field in a vain attempt to get to the ball and prevent Infante from scoring the decisive run from second base.

"When you're going bad, that stuff happens," Gardenhire said. "That looked like a double-play ball."

Cabrera drew a four-pitch unintentional walk with one out in the seventh after Infante's leadoff single.

"You've got two MVP guys back-to-back," Gardenhire said. "You take your chances. You hate to walk anybody to get to Fielder, but you've got to take a chance."

"If I'm on the mound, I want to walk both of them," quipped Detroit right-hander Rick Porcello, who gave up half the 10 hits he allowed in the third when Minnesota scored four times to take a 5-2 lead.

Fielder singled home the first run of the three-run seventh, and his fluke RBI single in the eighth made him 5-for-5 following Cabrera walks, intentional or not, in the last four games.

"Definitely," Fielder said when asked if it perks up his concentration when Cabrera is walked. "Whenever they do that, I figure they want to pitch to me. That's a good thing.

"That's why I'm here. He's the man. I want to make sure he gets every opportunity he can."

In the seventh, Victor Martinez singled to right-center to drive in Cabrera, who crossed the plate for the 1,000th time in his career (the 20th active player to reach the milestone). Jhonny Peralta lined a 3-2 pitch from Burton into the left field corner for an RBI double that made it 6-6.

Jose Valverde picked up his fifth save while working in three straight games for the first time this season. Joaquin Benoit (1-0) pitched a three-batter eighth to pick up the win.

In addition to his sixth home run in the four-game stretch, Cabrera hit an RBI single up the middle in the fifth. He now has 27 RBIs in May after driving in 28 runs in April.

Josh Willingham hit two home runs for Minnesota, with his solo shot in the seventh padding the Twins' lead to 6-3. His three-run blast in the third completed the four-run frame.

"That was a cookie," Porcello said of his 1-1 pitch in the third, "and he did what he does to those."

Gardenhire said, "We've got to have some guys swinging the bat. He's a pretty big part of the picture."

Willingham is now 7-for-13 with two home runs off Porcello in his career.

NOTES: Twins SS Pedro Florimon was forced out of the game after the top of the third inning a jammed right index finger. "Hopefully we can use him in an emergency Friday," Gardenhire said. Eduardo Escobar replaced Florimon. ... Detroit C Alex Avila sat out his second straight game as the Tigers hope a brief respite can help him get back on track after his batting average sank to .174. ... New Twins OF/1B Chris Colabello was originally signed by Detroit on March 6, 2006, but was released by the Tigers 22 days later. He then played seven seasons in the independent Can-Am league before singing with Minnesota on Feb. 2, 2012. ... Tigers CF Austin Jackson has begun taking treatment for his left hamstring strain. "It doesn't sound like he's home free yet," said Leyland, who probably will have Jackson go on a short rehab stint before returning to the active roster. Jackson could come off the disabled list Monday. ... Minnesota is expected to bring up RHP Samuel Deduno on Friday so he can start against Detroit. The Twins will need another starter next week to take the spot formerly occupied by RHP Vance Worley, optioned to the minors after Wednesday's loss at Atlanta. ... Cabrera's first-inning home run was 197th as a Tiger. The total places him 10th on the franchise's all-time list, with the next player to pass being C Bill Freehan, who had 200 homers for Detroit. ... Justin Verlander's brother, Ben, is in town with his parents for the weekend. The younger Verlander brother is a junior at Old Dominion who has turned into a power-hitting outfielder/first baseman. He gave up pitching after his sophomore season and spent time with Tigers hitting coach Lloyd McClendon remaking his batting stroke last summer.
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