Five-run frame helps Twins cruise past Tigers

Five-run frame helps Twins cruise past Tigers

DETROIT -- While Kyle Lobstein's surprising start fell apart on Wednesday night with the roughest outing of his young Major League career, Ricky Nolasco looked a little like his younger self with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, sending the Twins to a 6-2 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park.

Tigers pitching had allowed only one earned run to the Twins over four games at Comerica Park this season, but Minnesota's recent offensive rebound became apparent against Lobstein, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings after three straight outings of at least seven. Torii Hunter's first-inning solo homer opened the scoring before three consecutive run-scoring extra-base hits knocked out Lobstein in the third.

"It was in the zone or down the middle," Lobstein said of Hunter's home run. "It's pretty easy to hit 86 [mph] when it's down the middle. Other than that, just inconsistency. I was a little quick with the delivery, so it's hard to have the same release point when the rest of your mechanics are out of sync. Really just letting the game get too fast."

Detroit rallied multiple times late, but couldn't get the big hit needed to make it a close game against Nolasco -- whose 5 1/3 innings marked his deepest start of the season -- or the procession of relievers who followed. The Tigers were held to two runs or fewer for the fourth consecutive game and the ninth time in their last 14.

"It was a good game for us getting a win here in Detroit after four losses," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We kept our optimism from Ricky from what we saw from him in Spring Training. He threw the ball well. He had a little more velocity out of the chute, and you could tell his breaking pitches, both his slider and curveball, were sharp early."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED

Mauer's bases-clearing triple

Consecutive triples spark five-run third: The Twins loaded the bases with one out in the third for Joe Mauer, who drilled a three-run triple into right-center field. On the very next pitch, Trevor Plouffe laced an RBI triple to almost the exact same spot. It marked the first time since 2011 the Twins had back-to-back triples. Kurt Suzuki followed with an RBI double to knock Lobstein from the game.

"You don't see back-to-back triples, period," Hunter said. "You might see two triples in an inning but not back-to-back. So that's pretty good."

Hunter's solo homer

Lobstein no longer homerless: Lobstein entered the game with the most innings (33) of any Major League starter without a home run allowed this year. But he paid Wednesday for back-to-back pitches over the plate to Hunter, who drove the second over the fence in left for a first-inning solo shot. Four of Minnesota's seven hits off Lobstein went for extra bases.

Nolasco's seven strikeouts

No earned runs for Nolasco: Nolasco entered with a 9.00 ERA in three starts, but turned in his best outing of the year. Because of a high pitch count, he lasted just 5 1/3 innings, and left with the bases loaded in the sixth after an error from Brian Dozier. Lefty Aaron Thompson came in and allowed two inherited runners to score, but both runs were unearned. Nolasco had his offspeed stuff working, as he struck out seven batters, including four in a row.

"He threw everything," Miguel Cabrera said. "He can throw for a strike, miss the strike zone, pitch high, low, inside, both sides. It's hard to figure out somebody like that. The best thing we can do about him is walk, but we're an aggressive team. We didn't work too much. We're ready to hit and we're ready to swing." More >

Castellanos' RBI single

Tigers stage rally: Detroit's offense had gone dormant against Nolasco, continuing its recent stretch of low-run output, then suddenly built rallies late with back-to-back bases-loaded opportunities. Yoenis Cespedes' sac fly and Nick Castellanos' single plated two runs in the sixth, but Victor Martinez's third strikeout of the night and Rajai Davis' groundout left the bases full in the seventh.

"I was the one who went out there with a lot of men in scoring position. I didn't get the job done," Martinez said. "The guys have been swinging the bat pretty good. But today I really had the opportunity to really turn the game around and didn't do anything."

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Tigers DH Martinez struck out three times, marking just the eighth time in 1,491 career games he struck out at least three times in a game.

WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: Right-hander Mike Pelfrey starts for the Twins in the series finale on Thursday afternoon at 12:08 CT. He's been a pleasant surprise for Minnesota this year, as he's 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA and is coming off a strong start against the Indians.

Tigers: Anibal Sanchez will try for his third quality start in as many meetings with the Twins when he takes the mound in Thursday's series finale. Sanchez tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings against Minnesota on April 8 at Comerica Park, then took the loss with seven innings of three-run ball on April 28 at Target Field.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.