DETROIT (AP) _ The short-handed Minnesota Twins desperately needed to change things up before the All-Star break. They’d loss four straight games, including a pair to division-rival Detroit, and were missing two All-Stars to injury.
Carl Pavano made sure to alter the status quo.
He pitched well into the eighth inning Sunday, helping Minnesota win 6-3 and keep from falling further behind Detroit and the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
“I hope a lot of people watched Carl and saw how he handled things today,” said manager Ron Gardenhire, who gave his Twins a pep talk before the game. “We’ve been in this situation before, and the key is cheering for each other and staying positive.”
Pavano is 5-2 with a 2.81 ERA in eight career starts against the Tigers.
“He was very good today,” said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. “We’ve always had trouble with him, and that didn’t change today.”
The Twins were missing Justin Morneau due to a concussion and catcher Joe Mauer, who would have gotten the day off from catching anyway but did not DH because of a sore shoulder.
The Tigers lost for only the third time in 20 home games since June 2.
“This was still a 7-2 homestand, which is very good,” Leyland said. “We haven’t set the world on fire in the first half of the season, but we’ve done pretty well. We just need to win more road games if we want to stay in this.”
Pavano (10-6) improved to 5-0 in his last seven starts, allowing three runs on six hits in 7 2-3 innings, before the bullpen took over. Jon Rauch pitched a scoreless ninth for his 20th save in 24 tries.
“I felt good today, and I knew that if I set a good tone, the guys would get me some runs,” Pavano said. “That’s a tough lineup, though, and they got to me a little at the end.”
Andy Oliver, originally scheduled to pitch in the Futures Game in Anaheim, dropped to 0-3 in four career starts. The rookie gave up four runs on five hits and four walks in 4 2-3 innings.
“I was getting ahead in the count, but then I was trying to get too cute, and an 0-2 count was turning into 3-2,” said Oliver, who hadn’t pitched above Double-A before being called up on June 25. “I’m not able to control a game here like I was able to do in Erie.”
Oliver walked the first two batters of the game, and they both came around to score on RBI singles by Jim Thome and Jason Kubel.
The Twins loaded the bases in the third, but shortstop Ramon Santiago made a running catch of Thome’s soft liner, then used a backhanded flip to start an inning-ending double play.
Oliver got into trouble again in the fifth with a walk, a hit batter and a wild pitch. He struck out Thome with runners on second and third, but Cuddyer hit a two-run double off reliever Eddie Bonine that made it 4-0.
Meanwhile, Pavano retired the first 13 hitters he faced before Brennan Boesch beat out an infield single with one out in the fifth. Two pitches later, Carlos Guillen grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Miguel Cabrera’s RBI double made it 4-1 in the seventh and extended his career-best hitting streak to 19 games. Boesch added a run-scoring groundout later in the inning, but the Twins put the game away in the eighth.
Cuddyer started the inning with a single, bringing Brad Thomas in to replace Bonine. Kubel singled and Danny Valencia made it 5-2 with an RBI double. After a pop-out, Drew Butera’s sacrifice fly restored the Twins’ a four-run advantage.
“We were playing defensively all game,” Leyland said. “Oliver was in trouble every inning, and the two times where we brought someone out of the bullpen to get a big out, we didn’t get either one.”
NOTES: Over an hour after the game’s conclusion, and well after he had left the stadium, Tigers starter Justin Verlander was named to the AL All-Star team as a replacement for a Sunday starter. “I absolutely want to go _ the All-Star Game is the All-Star Game, no matter how you get there,” he said. … Gardenhire said that Mauer will still take part in the All-Star game.