DETROIT - Small ball was parlayed into big ball by the Detroit Tigers on Monday night as they fought back from a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 victory from the Minnesota Twins on a mammoth three-run home run by Prince Fielder in the sixth inning.
Andy Dirks, who missed the last four games with a sore right knee, laid down a surprise first-pitch bunt to open the sixth inning.
It was only the fifth hit allowed by Minnesota starter Mike Pelfrey, with one being a Dirks solo home run in the third inning.
Pelfrey (2-3) threw three straight balls to Tigers' slugger Miguel Cabrera before battling back to a full count. But he missed inside and Cabrera walked.
That brought up the beefy Fielder, who swung at a fastball that tailed back over the heart of the plate and drilled it over the fence in deep left-center to help Detroit win its fourth straight game.
Max Scherzer (3-0) was a touch off in the first four innings when he allowed all three of Minnesota's runs, but struck out the last four batters he faced in 7 1/3 innings of work. Six of his 10 strikeouts came after the fourth as his slider and changeup both got sharper.
Lefty Drew Smyly relieved Scherzer after he struck out the leadoff man in the eighth, and Smyly retired all four batters he faced, three of them left-handed.
Joaquin Benoit was brought in and retired Trevor Plouffe on one pitch, a groundout to short, for his second save of the season.
Minnesota took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on doubles by Chris Parmelee and Oswaldo Arcia after Detroit had pulled to within a run on Dirks' first home run of the season.
The Twins' Josh Willingham startled Scherzer with his fifth home run of the season after the first two batters of the opening inning had been retired.
Minnesota added a run in the second. One-out singles by Plouffe and Arcia were followed by a wild pitch that put both runners in scoring position. Plouffe scored on a groundout to first by Aaron Hicks.
NOTES: Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire switched two slumping players April 16 and both benefited. He dropped slumping leading hitter Hicks to eighth and elevated Brian Dozer to the top spot. Hicks was hitting .300 (6-for-20) in his last seven games entering Monday while Dozier is 12-for-33 (.364) through eight games in the leadoff spot. ... Cabrera had 26 RBIs in April through Sunday, one shy of what is believed to be the club record for the month set by Tony Clark in 1997. Club records prior to 1921 are inexact. ... Giving up home runs is something Detroit and Minnesota pitchers are reluctant to do. Each staff had allowed only 11 home runs, fewest in baseball, entering their Monday matchup. ... Manager Jim Leyland decided to keep Torii Hunter fresh by giving him a night out of the starting lineup. Leyland also wanted to be cautious with his closer and declared Jose Valverde, who worked Saturday and Sunday, would not be used Monday against Minnesota. "I don't want to do silly things," Leyland said. ... Twins' outfielders had chalked up an assist in their five previous games and six of eight entering Monday. ... Dirks was playing his first game since April 24 due to a sore right knee.