DETROIT -- Matt Boyd tossed six scoreless innings in arguably his best outing as a Tiger, allowing Justin Upton's second-inning solo homer off Ricky Nolasco to stand as the lone run in a 1-0 win over the Twins on Monday at Comerica Park.
Boyd, making his second start since rejoining the injury-riddled Tigers rotation, held Minnesota to three hits and one runner in scoring position. The southpaw mixed fastballs and breaking balls to fan seven, including All-Star Eduardo Nunez and slugger Miguel Sano twice each. Boyd also induced seven ground-ball outs, including a key double play from Brian Dozier after Sano singled leading off the fourth.
"Today we were just down with the two-seamer, down with the slider, down with the change and down with the curve," said Boyd. "Everything got a ground-ball out there. It's just the way it happened today."
Boyd (1-2) earned his second Major League win in his 19th big league start. It was his strongest outing since his Tigers debut, when he tossed seven innings of one-run ball to beat the Royals last Aug. 5.
That game, too, was a pitching duel. Ricky Nolasco (4-8) matched Boyd with three hits over six innings, but the one that left the yard doomed him to the Twins' seventh loss to the Tigers in as many matchups this season.
"Sometimes in baseball, you're supposed to win 1-0," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "When the other pitcher is doing well or dealing, we need our pitcher to deal a little bit better, and that's what happened tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Upton, up and away: Upton, playing his second game in eight days after the All-Star break and a two-day bereavement leave, turned on a 92-mph fastball in from Nolasco and kept it fair, sending a 419-foot drive down the left-field line for the 200th homer of Upton's career.
"It's definitely cool to reach that milestone," Upton said, "but I hope that's not the last milestone I reach." More >
Nolasco works out of jam: Nolasco allowed a leadoff walk and a single in the third inning before a two-out walk to Miguel Cabrera loaded the bases. After falling behind 2-0 in the count on the next batter, Nolasco got Victor Martinez to fly out to left field.
"He's the last guy I'd ever want to face, to be honest with you," Nolasco said. "Let alone with the bases loaded, 2-0 count, even worse. I was just trying to make something up there. I tried to drop down on a sinker, and he popped it up. I got lucky."
Strikeout/throwout double play ends it: The Twins put the potential tying run on base in the ninth inning against closer Francisco Rodriguez, but catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia ended the game by erasing it. Pinch-runner Danny Santana took off for second on Rodriguez's full-count delivery to Dozier, but Dozier swung and missed at a pitch below his knees. Saltalamacchia dug it out and fired quickly to second base, where Ian Kinsler tagged Santana just before he could get his hand on second base. A 42-second replay review confirmed the call.
Twins manager Paul Molitor said he waited until the full count to send Santana in motion because he thought Rodriguez's best chance at getting a strikeout would be on a changeup, and Santana would hopefully have enough time to make it to second on the offspeed pitch. That is what he threw, but his jump wasn't quite good enough.
"I think he's probably got the best knack for stealing a base on our team, to be honest," Molitor said.
Twins pitchers cruise: Nolasco and Taylor Rogers combined to face the minimum number of batters over the last 5 1/3 innings. The Tigers only had two baserunners between the fourth and eighth innings, and both were taken off the basepaths by double plays.
"It was a weird day," Nolasco said. "I didn't punch anybody out. Just get that first one out of the way after a long break. I felt pretty decent." More >
"I think I made myself look really athletic -- and then five seconds later made myself look just like a dunce out there." -- Boyd, on throwing the ball into left field while trying to throw around the horn after deftly catching Joe Mauer's liner leading off the sixth
"He wanted me to get in on the fun." -- Upton, on Boyd's throw
WHAT'S NEXT Twins:Tommy Milone (2-2, 5.23 ERA) looks to build off his recent success Tuesday night against the Tigers after earning his first two wins of the season in his last two outings. Milone had an 8.10 ERA through his first five appearance this season before he was sent to Triple-A Rochester. He has a posted a 2.45 ERA in his last two starts.
Tigers:Anibal Sanchez (5-10, 6.75 ERA) will try again for a quality start when he takes the mound against the Twins on Tuesday night. Sanchez has given up 12 runs on 13 hits over 8 1/3 innings in two starts since injuries to Jordan Zimmermann and Daniel Norris led him back to the rotation. With Norris potentially back this weekend, this could be Sanchez's last chance to save his spot.