Twins shake Comerica slump behind Nolasco

Offense breaks out with big five-run third inning, giving staff room to work

Twins shake Comerica slump behind Nolasco

DETROIT -- After being outscored by a 24-2 margin in four losses at Comerica Park this season, the Twins finally broke through with a 6-2 win over the Tigers on Wednesday night.

Right-hander Ricky Nolasco gave up two unearned runs over 5 1/3 innings, while the offense was backed by a solo homer from Torii Hunter and back-to-back triples from Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe that keyed a five-run third inning against lefty Kyle Lobstein.

"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."

Nolasco entered with a 9.00 ERA in three starts after missing nearly a month with right elbow inflammation. And while he couldn't pitch deep into the game after needing 106 pitches to record 16 outs, it was still an outing he can build on, as he struck out seven batters, including four in a row at one point.

"Obviously, I wanted to be better than that and go deeper into the game," said Nolasco, who improved to 3-1 with a 6.38 ERA. "I wasn't efficient. So you're not going to be happy after walking three guys, but I'll take it for now. I think it's a step in the right direction to where I want to be."

Twins' five-run frame

The offense came through for Nolasco, as they knocked Lobstein out of the game after just 2 1/3 innings to mark the worst outing of his career. Mauer provided the big hit with a three-run triple in the third before Plouffe followed with an RBI triple and Kurt Suzuki added an RBI double.

And while the Twins didn't add on, it was still an improvement from Tuesday's 2-1 loss, when they went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

"It was a little different than last night when we got that opportunity early," Molitor said. "We capitalized with some hits with runners in scoring position, Joe clearing the bases and Plouffe following with the triple of his own."

The bullpen was able to hold the lead after Nolasco exited with the bases loaded in the sixth after an error by second baseman Brian Dozier. Aaron Thompson allowed two inherited runners to score, but Michael Tonkin, Brian Duensing, Blaine Boyer and Glen Perkins were able to combine to hold Detroit scoreless over the final three innings.

It helped the Twins improve to 11-5 against left-handed starters this year, which has helped buoy the club to a 19-15 record to start the year.

"It's a good trend," Molitor said. "I think some of the left-handers that fit the mold of Lobstein have given us trouble in the past."

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.