MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Luke Hughes hit two home runs to help the Minnesota Twins take out their hitting frustration on Brad Penny and the Detroit Tigers, stopping a seven-game losing streak with an 11-4 victory on Sunday.
Hughes has gone deep three times in two games. He drove in five runs for the first time in his career, backing Brian Duensing (9-13) and sparking the Twins to just their fourth win against the Tigers in their last 19 meetings.
Penny (9-10) gave up eight hits, seven runs and two walks in five innings. He struck out five, but this was another non-Justin Verlander flop by the rotation. The Tigers fell to 52-52 when their dazzling, dominant right-hander doesn’t start the game; they’re 21-8 when he does.
Jason Kubel also homered, a two-run shot in the first inning, off Penny and drove in three runs. After scoring just nine runs in the previous seven games, the Twins finally broke out. They were without regulars Michael Cuddyer, Joe Mauer, Alexi Casilla and Denard Span, too.
Hughes, a native of Australia who has been back and forth between Minnesota and Triple-A Rochester often in the past year, hit a two-run drive off the tall wall behind the bullpen in right-center field in the fourth inning after an RBI triple by Rene Tosoni. Then he hit a three-run homer against David Pauley in the seventh.
The Tigers hit into five double plays while missing an opportunity to stretch their lead in the American League Central to the biggest of the season. They began the day with a 6 1/2-game lead on the Cleveland Indians and a seven-game edge over the Chicago White Sox.
Duensing induced three double plays to limit the damage. He allowed seven hits, four runs and three walks in six innings, but the left-hander was just happy to win. He was 0-5 with an 8.65 ERA in his first five August starts.
In fact, Francisco Liriano was the only Twins starter to pick up a victory in the previous 28 games. He won twice in that stretch.
The Twins won at home for just the third time in their last 18 games at Target Field.
Ramon Santiago had four hits and two RBIs for the Tigers, and Victor Martinez had two singles and drove in a run. The Tigers dropped to 32-19 against division opponents this season. Their next 16 games are against AL Central foes.
NOTES: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who recently ended his presidential campaign, sat in the first row behind the Tigers’ dugout and gave his wife, Mary, a firm smooch when the sixth inning “Kiss Cam” feature showed them on the big screen. … The Tigers will send RH Max Scherzer (13-7) to the mound on Monday to start a four-game series at home against Kansas City. RH Luke Hochevar will start for the Royals. … The Twins start a three-game series in Chicago against the White Sox on Monday, with RH Kevin Slowey (0-2) pitching against LH Mark Buehrle (10-6). … The Tigers had utility man Don Kelly back from paternity leave, but OF Brennan Boesch (sprained thumb) and versatile backup Ryan Raburn (jammed finger) were out. Manager Jim Leyland told Raburn he wanted him to treat the injury all day so he can be back soon. He also expressed concern about Boesch’s lingering absence. “He’s a big key for us,” Leyland said.
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