DETROIT (AP) — Zack Granite set an odd first for Minnesota, becoming its first player to pinch run and homer in the same inning.
Granite capped an eight-run eighth inning with his first big league home run, a three-run drive that led the Twins over the Detroit Tigers 10-4 on Saturday night.
Minnesota won its third straight following a three-game sweep at the New York Yankees. The Twins began the night 3½ games ahead of Texas for the second AL wild card.
“This is the real right time when everything counts,” Twins pitcher Ervin Santana said. “Every game is huge for us. We’re just trying to win the most that we can.”
Santana (16-8) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, improving to 5-1 in his last 11 starts. He is one shy of his career high for wins, set in 2010.
Detroit pitcher Alex Wilson broke his right fibula in the eighth inning when hit by Joe Mauer’s line drive. Granite ran for Mauer and Daniel Stumpf (0-1) relieved, allowing three runs and three hits without retiring a batter in his first big league decision.
Jorge Polanco greeted Stumpf with a single, and Eddie Rosario and Eduardo Escobar followed with RBI singles for a 4-3 lead. Robbie Grossman hit a two-run single off Joe Jimenez, Jason Castro had an RBI groundout and Granite went deep against Blaine Hardy in his 93rd big league plate appearance.
Grossman’s RBI single in the seventh began Minnesota’s comeback.
“It just reinforces the whole mindset of playing the game from start to finish,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “Can you stay in the moment, relax, not put too much pressure on yourself and just trust that you’re going to find a way to at least give yourself a chance?”
Detroit, which announced Friday that manager Brad Ausmus will not return next season, has lost six straight and has allowed double-digit runs eight times in September. At 62-93, the Tigers will finish with their worst record since going 43-119 in 2003.
Efren Navarro hit two solo home runs for Detroit.
Minnesota’s Brian Dozier led off the game with a Little League home run, bunting to Jeimer Candelario and circling the bases when the third baseman’s throw went into right field for a three-base error.
“You try to make plays for your team, and stuff happens,” Candelario said. “The bad thing is when you don’t want to make plays, you know. You want to make plays and see what happens. I try to be aggressive.”
Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera will undergo an MRI Sunday after leaving in the second inning with lower back tightness. … Candelario left in the ninth inning with a bruised right knee and is day to day. … OF Mikie Mahtook, who reinjured his left groin while fielding a ball in Friday’s loss to the Twins, probably will not play again this season. He has a Grade 2 strain, Ausmus said. … RHP Jeff Farrell (concussion symptoms) also seems doubtful to return to action before season’s end. “He’s progressing through the concussion protocol, but he’s not been cleared,” Ausmus said.
Twins: OF Max Kepler left the game in the second inning with a left hip injury after falling while fielding a ball in the first inning. He’s listed as day to day.
RHP Jose Berrios (12-8), who starts for the Twins in Sunday’s series finale, is winless since Aug. 30 and has surrendered 11 earned runs in his last 21 innings. RHP Buck Farmer (4-4), who starts for the Tigers, is 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA in four September starts.
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