The Detroit Tigers know the Minnesota Twins are likely to be hanging around down the stretch and are glad to knock them back whenever possible.Relying on strong starting pitching and timely hitting, the Tigers did just that.Rick Porcello cruised through six innings and Detroit took advantage of Francisco Liriano's control problems in a 5-2 win over the Twins on Sunday.
Jhonny Peralta, Wilson Betemit and Ramon Santiago each had an RBI, and the Tigers extended their lead in the AL Central to two games for the first time this season.Victor Martinez added three hits for Detroit and Jose Valverde converted his 26th consecutive save opportunity.
"To win three out of four here, you got to be thrilled," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "They're not an easy team to beat."
Delmon Young had two hits for the Twins, who finished a 12-game homestand 6-6 and lost a half-game in the standings as they try to keep pace with the Tigers, Indians and White Sox in the division.Minnesota fell seven games back in the AL Central.
"We had some opportunities. We had some teams we could have made some ground up against," said Twins designated hitter Jim Thome.
"It would have been nice to win a series from one of these teams."Porcello (10-6) was forced to sit through several long stretches while his teammates were hitting, but he managed to stay loose and continue his July success. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits in six innings and improved to 4-0 this month."As a pitcher you can't complain about long innings," Porcello said. "We're putting up runs and it's my job to stay loose and make sure I'm ready to go."
It's also the starter's job to wiggle his way out of trouble if needed. Porcello did just that when he got Michael Cuddyer to ground into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third in the first inning."Cuddyer's one of the biggest reasons they're back in this thing along with their pitching," Leyland said. "To get him in the first inning was huge."Porcello also improved to 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA in his last six starts against the Twins.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times