Journeyman P.J. Walters, handed a three-run lead before he even stepped on the mound, worked six stout innings and four Minnesota relievers threaded through the final three innings of a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers that snapped a 10-game Twins losing streak. "That was a nice win, a long time coming," said Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire, who had to watch the final 40 outs on television after getting kicked out of the game with two out in the top of the third for arguing an interference call on Josh Willingham. "We scored early and our pitching held up." Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, "They made a three-spot (in the first) stand up." Walters scattered eight hits in six innings and walked one. He was brought up from Triple-A Rochester specifically to pitch against Detroit in Comerica Park, where he had a 1-0 record and 2.92 ERA in two previous starts. Walters (1-0) buffaloed Detroit until Andy Dirks singled and scored on a double by Torii Hunter in the fifth. He left the bases loaded in the second when he struck Dirks out on three pitches. Jhonny Peralta narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the sixth with a solo home run, his fifth homer of the season. It went to right. Hitting to the opposite field more often this season has helped the shortstop hit .300. "Walters was good," Gardenhire said. "He got the ball up the last couple of innings. But he went deep in the game, deep enough anyway. And our bullpen did a good job. "He's able to add and subtract with all of his pitches. He kept them off balance and that's what he does, what he is." The combination of left-hander Brian Duensing, Josh Roenicke, Jared Burton and closer Glen Perkins held off the Tigers through the final three innings, with Perkins picking up his ninth save. Too many starters getting knocked out early prompted the Twins to discard two pitchers in the rotation for two replacements -- Samuel Deduno on Friday night and Walters on Saturday.
Short starts have made the Twins go to their bullpen often and worn their relievers down. Minnesota jumped on Doug Fister (5-2) before he had time to settle into a groove, scoring three runs in the first inning. Joe Mauer, who broke up Anibal Sanchez's no-hit bid in the ninth inning on Friday night, hit his third home run of the season with one out -- his first of three straight hits in the game -- and Josh Willingham walked. Justin Morneau doubled Willingham home and Chris Parmelee brought him in with a two-out single to center. Fister had just one clean inning, but the only time he allowed two base runners, on two singles to begin the third, he got out of it with the help of a double play. Twins center fielder Wilkin Ramirez collided with Willingham making a catch in the sixth and had to come out of the game after getting hit in the mouth by the left fielder's arm. "He's got a sore jaw," Gardenhire said. "He took a test and we'll re-evaluate (Sunday)." Gardenhire was ejected when he went out to dispute a call on a double play in the top of the third. Second base umpire Joe West ruled that Willingham went into second with his hands up in an attempt to hinder a double play that Detroit was in the process of turning. West waved Mauer, who had gone from second to third on the play, back to second base. "He said, 'I'm just trying to protect the shortstop, just like I tried to protect you when you played,'" Gardenhire said. "Then he said not to point at his dirt. I pointed at his dirt." It was the second time this year that Gardenhire has been tossed out of a game and the 64th time in his career. NOTES: Fister hit his 11th batter of the season when he pegged Minnesota's Ramirez in the fourth inning. He still has hit more batters than he has walked this season, his lone base on balls in the game putting his season total at 10. ... The Twins are pushing back RHP Kevin Correia's start to Monday at Milwaukee. Correia was originally supposed to start Saturday, but Minnesota brought up the right-handed Walters to start because he had good numbers at Comerica Park. ... Detroit ace Justin Verlander and slugger Miguel Cabrera are "good enough to pitch/play in any era," former Tigers ace Denny McLain said Saturday. McLain, who may be the last pitcher to win 30 games (he won 31 in 1968 when he won the MVP and Cy Young awards) was at the park to take part in the Tigers honoring the 45th anniversary of the World Series-winning 1968 team. ... Triple-A OF Joe Benson was lost by Minnesota on a waiver claim to Texas. The Twins needed a 40-man roster spot so they could start Walters on Saturday. ... Slumping Tigers C Alex Avila, who normally starts against right-handers, was not in Saturday's starting lineup. Switch-hitter Brayan Pena started for the third time in four games. Avila's average is down to .168 and Detroit may conside sending him to the minors.
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