Dirks homers to make winner out of Tigers, Fister

Dirks homers to make winner out of Tigers, Fister

Dirks homers to make winner out of Tigers, Fister
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Tigers had little more to blame than their own gloves for the close game they found themselves in early on Tuesday. Detroit committed two errors in the third inning against the Twins, leading to all four of Minnesota's runs.

With those defensive lapses, Detroit blew a 4-0 lead.

Doug Fister could have easily unraveled from that point on. After starting off the game sharp, his defense rewarded him with costly errors.

Instead, Fister only pitched better from then on.

"He just didn't give in," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He didn't get down. He came back and pitched really well."

Andy Dirks shrugged off his woes against lefties to bail the Tigers out with a go-ahead solo homer in the sixth. Miguel Cabrera drove in his 100th run of the season with a single in the seventh for insurance -- and added his 101st RBI in the ninth -- as Detroit evened its series with the Twins with an 8-4 victory in front of 37,544 at Target Field.

Detroit's poor defense nearly spoiled one of the best outings of the year from Fister, who allowed four unearned runs on five hits in eight innings.

The right-hander has gone eight or more innings in four of his last six starts, throwing a career-high 120 pitches in Tuesday's win. Fister has been particularly stellar over his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.16 ERA

"Tonight was a little bit of a struggle at times, but we ended up working together and pulling it out," Fister said. "That was the biggest thing."

The shaky leather reared itself immediately in the third inning, which the Tigers entered with a 4-0 lead. Omar Infante was unable to handle Jamey Carroll's grounder to second to lead off the frame. Alexi Casilla then grounded out and Ben Revere singled, putting runners on the corners.

Prince Fielder hadn't committed an error in 59 games, but after he couldn't handle Infante's throw on Darin Mastroianni's ground ball, Carroll scored Minnesota's first run. Fielder then tried to throw Revere out at second, but that throw sailed into the outfield for an error, allowing Revere to advance to third.

"Omar probably gave it to Prince a little late," Leyland said. "Probably could have given it to him a little quicker. But those things happen. When you win, you don't talk about those things. If you lose a game like that, you probably talk a little bit more about the defense. But that's part of the game."

Fister struck out Joe Mauer, but Josh Willingham made Detroit pay for its errors in the next at-bat, hitting a three-run homer to tie the game.

Regardless of the unfortunate third inning, Fister said he simply remained focused on what he needed to do.

"It doesn't change anything," he said. "It doesn't change the way I pitch. It doesn't change the way we hit or play defense. It's a matter of, hey, we still have how ever many outs to get -- we need to go get those."

Fister got plenty more outs and his offense later picked him up. Dirks entered the game hitting just .172 this season off of left-handed pitchers, with one home run in 29 at-bats. But he went 2-for-3 against Minnesota lefty Brian Duensing, including his sixth-inning blast to right field.

"Their lineup is pretty ridiculous," said Duensing, who gave up five runs on eight hits over six innings. "It's one of those things where you can't make a lot of mistakes, and unfortunately that happened tonight."

Infante led off the seventh with a triple before Cabrera's single brought him home. Cabrera became just the third player in Tigers history to notch 100 or more RBIs in five straight seasons. He joins Harry Heilmann, who accomplished the feat from 1923-29, and Charlie Gehringer, who did it from 1932-36. Cabrera added an RBI double in the ninth.

Jhonny Peralta came in 10-for-22 lifetime against Duensing and continued to punish him in the first inning. Peralta's single drove in Austin Jackson and Infante after they started the game with a walk and a single, respectively.

Peralta functioned as Detroit's fourth different No. 5 hitter in its last four games. Leyland said the search for a name to regularly pencil in there continues, as those four hitters combined to go 2-for-16.

"That is a work in progress," Leyland said. "I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow."

Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.