Rajai delivers; Twins unable to pick up ground

Rajai delivers; Twins unable to pick up ground

DETROIT -- The Tigers dealt the contending Twins a heartbreaking loss, as they rallied back late from a three-run deficit and Rajai Davis connected on a go-ahead two-run blast in the eighth inning in a 6-4 win on Friday night at Comerica Park.

It was a tough loss for the Twins, who were unable to pick up ground in the race for the second American League Wild Card spot with just nine games left in the season. They trail the Astros by 1 1/2 games after Houston's 6-2 loss to the Rangers on Friday night.

The Tigers erased Minnesota's late lead, scoring three runs in the seventh keyed by an RBI ground-rule double from Ian Kinsler off reliever Casey Fien after Davis had a 14-pitch at-bat that wore down Fien. Detroit tied it with a two-run double from Victor Martinez off Glen Perkins in his fifth appearance since missing nearly three weeks with a lower back strain.

Perkins remained in the game and served up the go-ahead two-run homer to Davis on a 3-2 slider with two outs in the eighth. It came after the Twins were unable to score with two runners on and one out in the top of the inning.

"It's beyond frustrating," said Perkins, a three-time All-Star. "I'm at a loss of words. It's disappointing. This whole second half for me has been torture. If I pitched the way I know that I can and the way I have, we probably would've clinched a playoff spot. We'd be in a better position than we are now, which is frustrating."

Eddie Rosario was the star for the Twins in a losing effort, as he had an outfield assist in the second, hit the three-run triple in the fifth and scored on a sacrifice fly that barely left the infield to surprise Tigers second baseman Kinsler. Rosario now has 16 outfield assists and 15 triples to become the first player with at least 15 outfield assists and triples since Philadelphia's Johnny Callison in 1965.

Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey was saddled with a no-decision, allowing one run on six hits and no walks, while tying a season-high with seven strikeouts. He left with a chance to pick up his first win on the road since May 8, but the bullpen couldn't protect a three-run lead.

Pelfrey strikes out seven

Tigers left-hander Matt Boyd gave up just one hit in six innings, but was charged with four runs, as the lone hit he allowed was Rosario's three-run triple in the fifth.

Davis comes up big:
Davis battled Fien for 14 pitches in the seventh inning, fouling off nine of them, before coming up short and flying out to left. An inning later, Davis stayed alive against Perkins by fouling off back-to-back 2-2 sliders from Perkins before delivering an opposite-field loft over the right-field fence. It was his fifth lead-changing home run in the seventh inning or later in two seasons as a Tiger.

"I was trying to go to right field," Davis said. "I figured if he threw the ball inside, I'd just have to trust my hands. But he didn't, and I was able to use it to my advantage." More >

Rosario does it all: After the Twins loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth after a pair of walks and a throwing error from third baseman Nick Castellanos, Rosario made Boyd pay with a three-run triple to right-center. But Rosario wasn't done, as he scored from third on an unusual sacrifice fly to Kinsler, who caught a shallow popup from Eduardo Escobar and was caught off-guard by Rosario tagging up. The throw got away from catcher James McCann to allow Rosario to score Minnesota's fourth run of the inning.

Escobar's sacrifice fly

"I knew on that play there was a chance he could go," Kinsler said. "I had plenty of time. I put a good throw on it. It just got past McCann." More >

V-Mart makes Perkins pay: Although Perkins had recent success against Miguel Cabrera (3-for-15 with five walks since 2009), Perkins walked Cabrera on four pitches with two on and two out in the seventh. He then fell behind on Martinez, who laced a two-run double to left-center to tie the game. Martinez has 11 RBIs in his last 10 games after going 19 games without an RBI.

V-Mart's game-tying double

Minnesota's offense comes out flat: The Twins managed just two hits, and Rosario's was the only hit to reach the outfield, as Brian Dozier reached on an infield single in the eighth to put two runners on with one out. But Joe Mauer lined out softly to shortstop and Miguel Sano grounded back to reliever Alex Wilson to end the scoring threat. The Twins went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"We didn't have a good night offensively," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We were fortunate to put up the four-spot there. A couple walks and a misplay and then Rosario with some aggressive baserunning, so we snuck that fourth run across."

"Just in case they didn't see where that ball went, I had to point it out." -- Davis, on raising his hand on his way around the bases on the go-ahead home run

"It's hard to swallow. We've had tough losses, and we have to move on. We can't control what others are doing. We'll try to bounce back." -- Molitor, on the loss

Mauer went 0-for-3 to see his club-record streak of reaching base safely in 43 straight games come to an end. Mauer set the Twins record on Thursday, passing Bob Allison's mark of 42 set in 1961. He finishes with the third-longest in the Majors this year behind Matt Holliday (45) and Edwin Encarnacion (44). Mauer also laid down his first sacrifice bunt since July 21, 2012.

Rosario's three-run triple in the fifth was reviewed in a crew chief review, as a fan appeared to interfere with the ball in right-center field. After review, the original ruling on the field was overturned, as fan interference was called, but the results remained the same, as Rosario was awarded third and all three runs scored.

The Twins challenged a play in the eighth, when Anthony Gose was ruled safe at second on a stolen base attempt with two outs. But after a review, the call on the field was overturned and Gose was ruled out to end the inning.

Suzuki throws out Gose

Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine left the game in the fifth inning with right groin soreness and is listed as day to day, according to the team. Dixon Machado pinch-hit for Romine in the fifth inning, driving in Detroit's first run on a fielder's choice grounder, and he stayed in the game at short.

Romine said he felt the injury on his previous at-bat in the third.

"On the swing, I felt it pinch," said Romine, who believed the tweak might be a result of a wider stance at the plate. "Better safe than sorry."

Twins: Rookie right-hander Tyler Duffey (4-1, 3.15 ERA) is set to start in the second game of the series on Saturday at 6:08 p.m. CT. Duffey has been lights out over his last seven starts, going 4-0 with a 2.06 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 43 2/3 innings.

Tigers: Alfredo Simon (13-10 5.21 ERA) takes the mound in what could be his final start at Comerica Park in a Detroit uniform, hoping to earn the Tigers their second four-game winning streak in two weeks.

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