DETROIT (AP) — The Minnesota Twins couldn’t take advantage of Max Scherzer’s brief wildness.
They left the bases loaded in the second inning — and that was their best chance to break through against the Detroit right-hander.
“Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff, he’s really good,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He almost never elevates the ball and his stuff is moving all over the place. With the guys over there, if you don’t get them early, you probably aren’t going to get them at all.”
Scherzer ended up pitching six solid innings to remain undefeated this season, and Avisail Garcia broke the game open with a bases-loaded triple, leading the Tigers over Minnesota 6-1 on Sunday. Scherzer, who retired his last 22 batters in a win at Cleveland on Tuesday, allowed a run and three hits Sunday in improving to 7-0. He struck out six and walked three.
Torii Hunter homered for the Tigers, and Prince Fielder drove in a run with a fourth-inning double. Garcia, pinch-hitting in the sixth, cleared the bases to make it 6-1.
Mike Pelfrey (3-5) allowed five runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
“I thought there were a lot of good things today,” Pelfrey said. “I made a terrible pitch to Torii Hunter and he made me pay for it, and I walked a few too many guys. It was a good pitch to Prince, but that’s what Prince does to everyone.”
Minnesota has lost 11 of 12.
Scherzer set down the Twins in order in the first, extending his streak of batters retired to 25 before Minnesota drew back-to-back walks to start the second. An error by shortstop Ramon Santiago loaded the bases with one out, but a flyball by Aaron Hicks wasn’t deep enough to score a run, and Scherzer got out of the inning.
He is the first Detroit pitcher to start the year 7-0 since Jeremy Bonderman was 8-0 in 2007.
“If I was 0-7 but pitching well and giving the team a chance to win, I’d still be as proud of that,” Scherzer said. “For me, it’s all about going out there and making sure that I’m pitching deep into games and keeping their offense down, and I’ve been doing that for the most part.”
Hunter opened the scoring in the first with an opposite-field solo homer, and in the fourth, Miguel Cabrera walked and scored on Fielder’s double. Each of the last six times Cabrera has walked, Fielder has followed with a hit.
Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a one-out single in the sixth, and Avila later drove him home with a bloop single that fell between three fielders in short left-center.
“I threw Avila a great pitch inside, and he blooped it the other way,” Pelfrey said. “There’s nothing you can do in a situation like that. You just tip your cap to the guy.”
That hit chased Pelfrey, and after Casey Fien walked Omar Infante to load the bases, the Twins brought in left-hander Caleb Thielbar. Detroit countered with Garcia, who hits right-handed, and he sent a drive to left-center to bring home three more runs.
Drew Smyly pitched 2 1-3 hitless innings of relief for the Tigers to finish the game.
Minnesota’s only run came in the fifth on an RBI single by Jamey Carroll.
NOTES: The longest streak of batters retired by a pitcher this year is 29 by Shelby Miller of St. Louis, according to STATS. On May 10, against Colorado, Miller allowed a leadoff single in the first before retiring the final 27 batters to end the game. Then on May 15, Miller retired the first two New York Mets he faced. … Hunter needs one more homer to reach 300. … Tigers manager Jim Leyland said there’s no timetable for the return of OF Austin Jackson, who has been on the DL since May 12 with a pulled left hamstring. RHP Octavio Dotel (right elbow) isn’t expected back for a while. … Minnesota OF Wilkin Ramirez went on the 7-day concussion DL. He left Saturday’s game when he was shaken up in an outfield collision. … Minnesota plays at Milwaukee on Sunday. Kevin Correia (4-4) is set to start for the Twins against Wily Peralta (3-5). Detroit begins a two-game home series with Pittsburgh. Justin Verlander (5-4) takes the mound for the Tigers against Francisco Liriano (3-0).
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