"We left so many men on base early in the game, and had a bunch of guys thrown out at home," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We had some chances. We hit some hard balls that were caught. The game could've been a different story. But you see that sometimes where you should have multiple runs and they come back to bite you with that kind of offense."
The Twins took a one-run lead into the eighth inning but reliever Alex Burnett struggled, giving up a one-out triple to Austin Jackson before walking pinch-hitter Quintin Berry and allowing a game-tying single to Miguel Cabrera.
Reliever Tyler Robertson came in to face Prince Fielder, who promptly crushed a three-run blast to give the Tigers a three-run lead, and Delmon Young followed Fielder's blast with shot to right-center off Anthony Swarzak that was originally ruled a double but then overturned after replay showed the ball cleared the wall before bouncing back into play.
"I just hung a slider to him and he did with it what he's supposed to," Robertson said of Fielder's homer. "The first pitch was a good one. It was a ball. It was a good take by him. And then I just hung that one up in the hand, and he saw it pretty good and hit it out of the ballpark."
Gardenhire added that left-hander Glen Perkins was unavailable to pitch and that right-hander Jared Burton was slated to serve as closer.
It spoiled another strong outing from left-hander Scott Diamond, who went seven innings, allowing just two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts. He heads into the All-Star break with a 2.62 ERA.
But Diamond didn't go back out for the eighth inning despite throwing 91 pitches because he'd gone eight innings in back-to-back starts and was battling the heat in Detroit.
"I was definitely a little gassed," Diamond said. "It was a hot day with the humidity. I was able to get some sleep last night, but a combination of different things dictated me only going seven."
The Twins roughed up Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello early but couldn't deliver the knockout blow. Porcello allowed 12 hits and one walk in just 3 2/3 innings, but Minnesota scored just three runs against him.
In the second inning, Brian Dozier delivered an RBI single to open the scoring but the Twins promptly had runners thrown out at home on back-to-back plays. Darin Mastroianni was out at home trying to advance on a grounder hit by Jamey Carroll, while Dozier was gunned out at the plate by left fielder Ryan Raburn on a two-out single from Denard Span.
The Twins tacked on two more runs in the fourth, as Span and Joe Mauer both delivered RBI singles. But the Twins left the bases loaded, as Justin Morneau lined out to Cabrera against reliever Darin Downs to end the inning.
The Tigers didn't get a hit until the bottom of the fourth with Jackson leading off the frame with a double and scoring on a single from Cabrera.
Detroit scored again in the fifth on an RBI double from Brennan Boesch after Jhonny Peralta reached on an infield single and a throwing error from shortstop Dozier.
The Twins failed to tack on an insurance run in the seventh, when Mastroianni was tagged out at home on a failed squeeze play with Carroll at the plate.
"We did a great job of dodging bullets," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "What happened to them is kind of what's happened to us this year. They got a bunch of hits and couldn't get that killer one, and in the end they paid for it."