MINNEAPOLIS -- David Price tossed eight strong innings and was backed by three RBIs from Ian Kinsler to lift the Tigers to a 4-2 win over the Twins on Thursday night at Target Field. The win helped Detroit move 1 1/2 games behind second-place Minnesota in the American League Central, as the Tigers are 8-2 against the Twins this season.
"I didn't feel that good in the first two or three innings, but my defense picked me up and the offense early with Ian, and Ian again late, that was just a good job," Price said. "That's a battle. That's a very good team. They're in front of us in the standings."
Price gave up two unearned runs on five hits and three walks to improve to 5-0 over his last seven starts. The lone runs he allowed came after an error by Nick Castellanos in the fifth. Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter hit RBI singles off Price to give the Twins a short-lived lead.
Price outpitched Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey, who went 7 2/3 innings but gave up four runs on eight hits to get saddled with his fourth loss over his last six outings. Kinsler gave Detroit the lead with an RBI double high off the wall in left field with two outs in the seventh, and the Tigers added an insurance run on an RBI double from Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote candidate Yoenis Cespedes off reliever Blaine Boyer.
"It was actually a pretty good game overall," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "Both the starters stepped up. Mike kind of rebounded from a couple rough outings. After the leadoff homer, he settled in pretty well. But Price is tough. He showed us he has that extra gear when we had a couple opportunities early."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kinsler drives in three: Kinsler provided most of the offense the Tigers needed, driving in three runs. He led off the game with a home run on the second pitch he saw, tied the score shortly after the Twins took a lead with an RBI fielder's choice in the sixth and doubled high off the wall in left-center to give the Tigers the go-ahead run in the eighth.
"I thought it was [a home run], yeah," Kinsler said of his double. "But when the sun goes down in this ballpark, the ball seems to stop carrying a little bit. The go-ahead run's fine. That's plenty for me." More >
Twins put up two-run fifth:Brian Dozier sparked the two-run inning by reaching on an error by third baseman Castellanos. Plouffe sent home Dozier with a single to center before scoring on a single to left by Hunter.
"We got ahead with some good at-bats to put two runs on the board," Molitor said, "but they just kind of crawled their way back."
Price goes eight: Price gave most of the bullpen a night off, throwing eight innings in the win. He gave up just two runs -- both unearned -- and pitched himself out of trouble in three of the first four frames before settling down.
"He didn't have his best command early," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "His stuff was OK, but I thought he got sharper as the game went on. In fact, the last inning might have been his best."
Twins get Krauss at home:Marc Krauss led off the eighth with a single off Pelfrey and tried to score from first on a double from Anthony Gose that went over Aaron Hicks' head in center field. But Hicks got the ball in quickly to shortstop Eduardo Nunez, who was able to throw home in time to get Krauss. But Gose later ended up scoring on Kinsler's two-out double to give the Tigers the lead.
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Kinsler's leadoff home run -- his first since last August -- was the 32nd of his career. That puts him at 11th all-time, one behind Molitor. Rickey Henderson holds the Major League record, with 81.
"His first at-bat, he obviously hit that homer, and it was belt-high over the middle. I might have been able to hit that one out. And then I threw him another one. So he's a good enough hitter where you can't get away with it. I got what I deserved." -- Pelfrey, on Kinsler
Kinsler's go-ahead double in the eighth hit high off the wall in left-center field and was reviewed to see if it was a homer or a double. But after a review, the call on the field stood, and Kinsler was awarded a double.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:Justin Verlander looks for his first win of the season on Friday in just his fifth start. Verlander was rocked by the Blue Jays the last time out, giving up seven runs in five innings, skyrocketing his season ERA up to 6.75.
Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana makes the start in the second game of the series on Friday. Santana was sharp in his first start of the season, on Sunday, giving up two runs over eight innings against the Royals after serving an 80-game suspension for a performance-enhancing drug.
Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.