MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Phil Hughes threw seven strong innings and Josmil Pinto hit his fifth homer of the season and the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3 on Saturday.
Hughes (2-1) had six strikeouts with no walks. He retired 16 straight at one point and has won two straight – a welcome sight for a Twins rotation that had produced only six quality starts this season.
Detroit led 2-0 before starter Anibal Sanchez left in the third with a blister on his middle finger on his throwing hand, forcing newly recalled Jose Ortega (0-1) into action.
Ortega, who had just arrived from Triple-A Toledo, and Phil Coke then combined to walk six Twins batters – five in the fifth.
A throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday and a bases-loaded walk by Coke allowed Minnesota to tie the game in the fifth without a hit.
Trevor Plouffe’s two-RBI single off Coke to score Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier put the Twins ahead for good, and Pinto’s homer off Al Albuquerque in the eighth provided an insurance run.
Detroit took a first-inning lead after Sam Fuld couldn’t hang onto Miguel Cabrera’s fly to deep right, allowing Torii Hunter to score from first. Cabrera went to third on Fuld’s bad throw and scored on Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly.
That was all the Tigers could muster against Hughes, though. The veteran right-hander made efficient work of Detroit’s lineup the next six innings. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.
Martinez led off the ninth with a homer.
Sanchez threw 53 pitches without allowing a hit and was in the middle of Dozier’s at-bat when Holaday, head trainer Kevin Rand and pitching coach Jeff Jones went to the mound.
Shortly after being joined by manager Brad Ausmus, Rand and Sanchez walked off the field.
Notes: The Tigers optioned RHP Justin Miller – who pitched two-thirds innings on Friday night and allowed a run and two hits – to Toledo to make room for Ortega. “It had nothing to do with how Justin pitched last night. He had pitched well the previous two outings, it was just we needed help for the bullpen,” Ausmus said. . Ausmus says he plans to put C Alex Avila (shin) back into the lineup Sunday. Avila was hurt sliding into home plate on Friday. Ausmus reiterated RHP Rick Porcello (elbow) should make his next scheduled start Wednesday. Porcello was hurt after a line drive deflected off his glove and hit his throwing elbow. . A day after his relievers threw 6 2-3 innings, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire put starter Mike Pelfrey in the bullpen as “an emergency-type guy.” Asked about tweaking his starting rotation, Gardenhire said, “You’ve got to give them a little bit of time here . these guys are here for a reason, we think they’re going to be good and hopefully they’ll get rolling and we don’t have to have this conversation.” . The Tigers and Twins wrap up their three-game series on Sunday when Justin Verlander (3-1) takes the mound for Detroit. Minnesota righty Kyle Gibson (3-1) will make his start against the Tigers for the first time.