MINNEAPOLIS -- Brian Dozier finished second in the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote on Friday, but he didn't let that deter him from hitting a walk-off three-run homer off Tigers closer Joakim Soria to lift the Twins to a wild 8-6 win at Target Field.
The Twins entered the ninth trailing, 6-1, but scored seven runs to complete the unlikely comeback, as no team had overcome a five-run deficit in the ninth over the last two seasons, going 0-1,057 in those situations, per ESPN stats and information. Eddie Rosario sparked the rally with a one-out RBI single, which led the Tigers to bring in Soria. Soria walked Aaron Hicks to load the bases and plunked Kurt Suzuki to plate another run. Danny Santana sent home two more runs with a single to center to make it a one-run game and set the stage for Dozier's second walk-off blast in the last five games, which made him the first Twins player to have two walk-off homers in one week since the franchise moved to Minnesota in 1961.
"Brian just kind of put a punctuation mark on everything that has transpired with him the first half, this last week and the Final Vote," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "There are a lot of people disappointed here, and rightfully so. The system is flawed to some degree. They're trying to get it right, but to have a player like that not in there doesn't seem fair."
The rally came after Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander entered his outing winless with a 6.75 ERA in four starts after opening the season on the disabled list with a strained right triceps. He was solid against the Twins, allowing one run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts. The lone run he allowed came on a two-out RBI single from Dozier in the eighth.
Twins right-hander Ervin Santana struggled in his second start of the season after serving an 80-game suspension for the use of a performance-enhancing drug. He lasted four innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and three walks. He served up a two-run homer to Victor Martinez in the third before allowing a three-run blast to Yoenis Cespedes and a solo shot to J.D. Martinez in the fourth.
"It's not debilitating," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said of the loss. "Played a lot of games, had losses just as bad as this one, so we'll come back tomorrow [like] this never even happened."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Twins rally for seven-run ninth: To put their unlikely comeback in perspective, the Twins had only scored seven runs in the ninth inning twice before Friday. They only had two hits through the first seven innings but came though with five in the ninth, including Dozier's walk-off blast on a first-pitch slider from Soria.
"We had a lot of big hits," Dozier said. "We just strung everything together. It just seemed like it happened so quickly, bam, bam, bam, and then we won the game. That's the good thing about this team. We never feel like we're out of it." More >
Trio of homers gives Tigers boost: The Tigers might be without their best bat -- Miguel Cabrera -- but three home runs from the Martinezes and Cespedes looked like it would be all the offense the Tigers would need. Victor Martinez sent his fourth home run of the season -- a two-run shot -- to right-center in the third before Cespedes and J.D. Martinez piled on.
For Santana, lightning doesn't strike twice: Santana was impressive in his season debut against the Royals on Sunday, allowing two runs over eight innings with eight strikeouts, but he wasn't as sharp in his Target Field debut. He was able to get out of a bases-loaded jam with one out in the second but was hurt by Detroit's three homers. Santana allowed three homers in a start only once last year, on Aug. 18 against Pittsburgh. More >
Verlander turns in solid outing: Verlander did everything he could to earn a win, but the bullpen spoiled it for him after he bounced back from a five-inning, seven-run outing against Toronto in a big way. He struck out Dozier on a 97-mph fastball and later retired 10 straight batters in his 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing of the season.
"My last start, I told you guys, 'Hey, I felt like my stuff's much better.' Really just came down to a couple pitches here and there and the little final bit of rust to knock off," Verlander said. "I felt like I was really close, and tonight was much better than last time. I was able to get into a rhythm and maintain it." More >
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dozier became the first player to have two walk-off homers in the span of a week since Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt did it on Aug. 9 and Aug. 13, 2013. The last player to do it in a calendar week was Matt Kemp with the Dodgers on April 17 and April 21, 2011. The last player in franchise history to accomplish it was Roy Sievers in 1958, with the Washington Senators.
"Dozier right now is definitely our MVP. He's doing everything he can to will this team to win. And he showed it tonight." -- Torii Hunter, on Dozier
J.D. Martinez hit a grounder to third base to open the seventh inning and was ruled out on a close play at first base by first-base umpire Marty Foster. But after a review, it was determined that Martinez was safe, and the call was overturned.
Another play was reviewed in the ninth, when Rosario was ruled out at second base on a stolen-base attempt with one out. But after a review, second-base umpire Mark Wegner's call was overturned and Rosario was ruled safe.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Detroit will send Alfredo Simon to the mound on Saturday looking to pull the Tigers closer to Minnesota for second place in the American League Central. Simon is 8-5 with a 4.18 ERA on the year but has struggled in his last two starts, giving up a combined 11 runs.
Twins: Right-hander Phil Hughes is set to start in the second game of the series on Saturday. Hughes has been pitching better recently after a slow start, posting a 2.95 ERA over his last six outings.
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.