It was a better outing for Pelfrey, who was coming off back-to-back shaky starts, but he still came away displeased with the way it ended, as the Twins are now 2-8 against the Tigers but 44-32 against everybody else.
"I live off adrenaline, but I just threw it down the middle belt-high," said Pelfrey, who surrendered four runs on eight hits over 7 2/3 innings. "He did what he's supposed to with it. I didn't make the pitch. That's how it goes."
Manager Paul Molitor stuck with Pelfrey because of the way he had pitched to that point, not because he was afraid to go to his bullpen. Pelfrey gave up a homer to Kinsler to open the game but settled down from there, only allowing a run in the sixth on Kinsler's RBI fielder's-choice groundout.
"It was just one pitch away there for Mike," Molitor said. "His stuff was still good. He was making some good pitches. But the pitch to Kinsler was just over the plate, and they added the insurance run and we couldn't rally."
Pelfrey, who had allowed 11 runs over six innings in his previous two outings, kept the Twins in the game. Tigers ace David Price struggled with his command early, but Minnesota had nothing to show for it. The Twins left six runners on through the first four innings before finally breaking through with two runs in the fifth on a pair of RBI singles by Trevor Plouffe and Torii Hunter. But that was all they could muster against Price, who gave up two unearned runs over eight frames.
"He was pretty good on the other side," Pelfrey said. "I don't know if he had his best command early, but he made pitches with guys on. That's why he is who he is. He was obviously better today, and he won."
Pelfrey finishes the first half of the season 5-6 with a 4.00 ERA after posting a 7.59 ERA over his last six starts, and although his outing seemed to be a step in the right direction, he was in no mood to look at it that way.
"It's not hard to be better than my last couple starts," he said. "It's a frustrating night. I didn't come through, and it cost us the game. It's just the way it is."
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.