DETROIT (AP) — Justin Morneau showed contending teams who may want to make a deal for him he’s still got it, hitting a two-run homer and a two-run double before finishing with a season-high four hits to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 Tuesday night.
“He’s obviously still a threat,” Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello said after Morneau roughed him up. “The home run was one of the better pitches I threw to him all night.”
Glen Perkins struck out Miguel Cabrera with two on for the final out to help the fourth-place Twins hold on for the win against the AL Central-division leading Tigers.
Cabrera, who has been playing through a series of injuries, finished his last at-bat in pain.
“You could see it in his facial expression,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, adding he didn’t know what Cabrera’s latest ailment was about 15 minutes after the game ended.
Mike Pelfrey (5-10) gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. Jared Burton got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth, and Perkins finished for his 29th save in 32 chances — barely.
Detroit catcher Brayan Pena led off the ninth with a single after fouling a pitch off his right big toe and struggling to run to first base before, he was replaced by Bryan Holaday. After Austin Jackson walked with two outs, Cabrera came to the plate.
The fans that stuck around rose to their feet only to go home disappointed when the reigning AL MVP swung and missed on a third strike.
“When you get to their closer, it’s going to be pretty rough to come back,” Leyland said. “I think he’s one of the best in the league.”
Porcello (9-7) allowed five runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings for Detroit.
The Twins were without All-Star Joe Mauer, who was scratched from his start at first when he experienced dizziness during batting practice.
Minnesota might end the season without Morneau, who can be traded by the end of the month because he cleared waivers.
“That’s just part of baseball in August,” he said. “There’s nothing I can do about it, and I don’t expect anything to happen. But if it does, I’ll deal with it. Right now, I’m just playing.”
Gardenhire also said before the game he didn’t plan to put Mauer behind the plate during the series, insisting the decision had nothing to do with Mauer’s mask getting hit by a lot of baseballs when he played catcher Monday against the New York Mets. A couple hours later, Mauer was taken out of the lineup. And after the game, Mauer was put on the seven-day concussion disabled list.
“I’m glad we have the means to find out that someone’s hurt and do the right thing for them,” Gardenhire said. “For a long time, you had guys playing through these things, but now we have the tests to find out that something is wrong and take care of them.”
The Twins put Morneau, who is in the final year of his contract, on revocable waivers last week and he wasn’t claimed. He was drafted by Minnesota in 1999 and has been a cornerstone of the team for a decade.
“You’d love for him to finish his career here,” Gardenhire said. “It’s now always up to the manager.”
Prince Fielder hit his 20th homer to get the Tigers within two runs in the fourth inning, but they allowed Minnesota to build its lead in each of the next two innings.
Phil Coke pitched in relief of Porcello and Morneau sent his first pitch into the right-field gap to put Minnesota up 5-1 in the fifth inning.
After the game, Coke was sent to Triple-A Toledo to work on his control and left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarez was recalled.
“We’re not down on Phil Coke,” Leyland insisted. “He’s coming back Sept. 1.”
That wasn’t of much consolation for Coke.
“I’m not happy,” he said. “I don’t know who would be.”
Pedro Florimon hit a solo homer off Jeremy Bonderman in the sixth, giving the Twins a five-run lead.
NOTES: The Twins want to see RHP Samuel Deduno pitch in the bullpen before letting him take his start in the rotation Friday because he has biceps tendinitis. … Tigers C Alex Avila, who hasn’t played since Aug. 10 because of concussion symptoms, participated in pregame drills on the field and the early returns from his workout were positive. Avila will wear a mask with more padding when he returns to play. … Twins OF Oswaldo Arcia was out of the lineup because of a sore left wrist.
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