DETROIT -- Rookie Tyler Duffey threw six strong innings and Kurt Suzuki provided a go-ahead RBI single in the seventh to lift the Twins to a much-needed 6-2 win over the Tigers on Saturday night at Comerica Park.
"The games are dwindling, and the last thing you want to do is increase your deficit with what we're trying to make up over the next eight days," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We've relied a lot on Tyler the last month, and again, he had a good night."
Suzuki came up big with the go-ahead RBI single as part of a two-run seventh inning against Tigers right-hander Alfredo Simon. Simon went eight innings, surrendering four runs on eight hits and a walk.
"Overall, I think it was good," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He went eight innings, and anytime you get eight innings from your starter, that's a good thing. Sinker I thought was his best pitch tonight. He kept it down in the zone, got even swings and misses to go with some ground balls."
Duffey picked up the win after allowing two runs on eight hits and a walk over six innings. He improved to 5-0 with a 2.17 ERA over his last eight starts. Relievers Blaine Boyer, Trevor May and Kevin Jepsen combined to throw three scoreless innings to preserve the win for Minnesota.
The Twins struck early, as Brian Dozier led off the game with a hustle double and Joe Mauer followed with a single. Dozier then scored his 100th run of the season on an error by shortstop Dixon Machado. Dozier later added a sacrifice fly in the third to score Eduardo Escobar after he reached on a leadoff triple. Escobar gave the Twins some breathing room with a two-run blast to left in the ninth off reliever Kyle Lobstein.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Kurt Klutch: Suzuki put the Twins ahead in the seventh with a one-out RBI single to score Torii Hunter from second. Hunter started the rally with a walk before going to second on a single from Aaron Hicks. After Suzuki's single, Hicks stole third and scored on a fielder's choice from Escobar, who beat out a potential double play to keep the inning alive. Suzuki went 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, while Escobar went 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs.
"Suzuki got a big hit," Molitor said. "We added on. And Esco had a good night, adding that homer."
Nick of timing:Nick Castellanos entered Saturday on a 9-for-19 stretch, but he had just two RBIs to show for it. He added another Saturday with a fourth-inning gap double to left-center field, scoring Miguel Cabrera from third and setting up J.D. Martinez to score on James McCann's ensuing single.
May gets out of jam: May, pitching for the first time since Sept. 19 after dealing with lower back stiffness, ran into trouble in the eighth but was able to get out of it. He gave up singles to Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez, but he was able to strike out J.D. Martinez and get Castellanos to line out to right to the end inning.
"It was good to see Trevor back out there," Molitor said. "He got into a little bit of trouble but got out of it. And he's feeling pretty good, so we're optimistic about that."
Safety squeeze: The Tigers scored twice in the fourth inning but tried to sneak another across with a safety squeeze bunt from Machado with runners at the corners and one out. Machado got the bunt down on a curveball, but instead of pushing it past the pitcher like he wanted, he deadened it in front of home plate, forcing Castellanos to hold at third base. McCann advanced to second, but Duffey retired Rajai Davis to end the rally.
"With first-and-third, the safety squeeze to the first-base side is a very tough play to defend," Ausmus said. "So we gave that to [Machado], who's one of our better bunters. It just didn't work out that time."
"It's fun. It's everything you dream of to give your team a chance to win in big games. If you don't like pitching in this, you shouldn't be playing. So it's a lot of fun, and everyone is fired up and really going all out. That's what you gotta do this time of year." -- Duffey
"It's been an uphill climb for a while. I guess officially you can put an X next to our name or cross us off the list." -- Kinsler, on the Tigers being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention More >
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Dozier scored his 100th run of the season in the first inning to become the fifth Twins player with multiple 100-run seasons, joining Harmon Killebrew, Chuck Knoblauch, Kirby Puckett and Tony Oliva. He also joins Knoblauch and Oliva as the only three to score at least 100 runs in back-to-back years.
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With one out in the eighth, Victor Martinez singled and Kinsler rounded second, but slipped and fell on the way to third. He dived back into second and was ruled safe by second-base umpire Mike Winters. The Twins challenged, but the call stood.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Ervin Santana starts the series finale for the Twins on Sunday at 12:08 p.m. CT. Santana has been on a roll recently, going 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 36 innings over his last five outings.
Tigers:Randy Wolf gets the start with a 1:08 p.m. ET first pitch as the Tigers wrap up their home schedule. It'll be just the third meeting against the Twins in Wolf's 379th career start.