By Rhett Bollinger and Jordan Horrobin
DETROIT -- The Twins avoided another tough defeat against the Tigers, bouncing back thanks to a go-ahead RBI single from Byron Buxton in the eighth inning in a 6-4 win on Sunday at Comerica Park.
Minnesota, which couldn't hold a late five-run lead in its 12-11 loss on Saturday, led 4-0 early, only to let its lead slip away for a second straight day. But Buxton came through with a one-out RBI single off reliever Warwick Saupold after Bruce Rondon walked the first two batters of the eighth inning. Ehire Adrianza added a sacrifice fly for an insurance run. It helped the Twins win for the seventh time in eight games, and they remain a half-game behind the Angels for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"All three games here felt like a struggle," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But it was a good series win. We talked about bouncing back after last night. The guys have to feel good about the trip overall, especially about today."
Left-hander Matthew Boyd started for Detroit, allowing four runs on six hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision. Boyd allowed a leadoff homer to Brian Dozier in the first and a two-run homer to Miguel Sano in the third.
"The home run balls have hurt us here recently,"Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "And certainly hurt [Boyd] today."
Twins right-hander Ervin Santana also didn't factor into the decision, surrendering four runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks with six strikeouts. Minnesota rookie Trevor Hildenberger picked up his first career save, throwing 1 1/3 scoreless innings to close it out.
"I'm glad they had the confidence in me to put me in there after last night's performance," said Hildenberger, who gave up a two-run homer on Saturday. "That was a tough loss for us, and with the role I played in that, it was nice to get some outs."
John Hicks opened the scoring for Detroit with a sacrifice fly in the fourth before the Tigers tied the game with three runs in a wild fifth inning that saw Nicholas Castellanos hit an RBI single with two more runs scoring on passed balls.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sano ends homerless drought: Sano hadn't homered since Aug. 2, but connected on a two-run shot off Boyd in the third to give the Twins a 4-0 lead. It was a good sign from Sano, who has been slumping a bit since getting hit on his left hand twice by pitches. It was his team-leading 26th of the season.
"Sano got one out, even though he didn't hit it particularly well," Molitor said. "I don't know if he used his knuckles or the handle."
Passed balls costly: The Tigers capitalized on an ugly fifth inning from the Twins to tie the game, as Mikie Mahtook reached on an error by first baseman Sano and it snowballed from there. Catcher Chris Gimenez was charged with three passed balls, including two in which a run scored.
"When you do get crossed up, the nerves set in and you get a little more anxious," Tigers catcher James McCann said. "I've been there, every catcher's been there. It's an uneasy feeling when you don't know if you can truly trust what's coming."
"We'll just see who's pitching well, what the matchups are. Somebody's gonna have to step up." -- Ausmus, on his eighth-inning bullpen strategy.
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The Twins won their 59th game, which is how many games they won last season, when they went 59-103 en route to the worst record in the Majors.
"It's amazing the difference a year makes," Molitor said. "We're still looking at 46 games to go. I think we all know what happened last year as far as having to endure that. But we're obviously in a much better position."
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: After an off-day on Monday, the Twins begin a big series against the first-place Indians that starts on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. CT. Veteran right-hander Bartolo Colon faces his original team and is coming off throwing seven scoreless innings in a win over the Brewers.
Tigers: Michael Fulmer will make his first start of the month at 8:05 p.m. ET on Monday as the Tigers head to Texas to open a three-game series at Globe Life Park. Fulmer, who last pitched July 31 and has since been on the disabled list with an elbow injury, is 0-3 with a 7.56 ERA in his past three starts.