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Morneau, Mauer lead offensive onslaught, Twins defeat Tigers

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins have been in dire need of a "smell 'em" game.

The M&M Boys delivered just that on Friday night, moving the Twins one step closer to Detroit in the AL Central.

Justin Morneau had two hits and three RBI and Joe Mauer added three hits in a 9-5 victory over the Tigers on Friday night, pulling the Twins within four games of Detroit in the division race.

Torii Hunter added two hits and two RBI and Mauer raised his league-leading average to .348 for the Twins, who entered the night having scored more than two runs just twice in their last 11 games.

"That was a 'smell 'em' game if there ever was one," Twins cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer said.

"Smell 'em" has become the team motto this season. Backup catcher Mike Redmond coined the phrase, saying they have to "smell those RBIs" when they see runners in scoring position in key situations. They playfully tap their noses when they come through, and there was plenty of nose-tapping on Friday night.

"The 'smell 'ems' were out again tonight," hitting coach Joe Vavra said. "That's the good feeling we were missing."

Magglio Ordonez had three hits and four RBI for Detroit, which took the series opener on Thursday night, but then watched the Twins score seven runs on six hits and four walks in the fifth and sixth innings to break Game 2 open.

Mauer's third single of the game started a three-run fifth inning that included a two-run double by Morneau. Mauer came into the game just 6-for-37 to drop into a virtual tie with New York's Derek Jeter for the AL batting lead.

Minnesota scored four more in the sixth, thanks to three two-out walks by Tigers reliever Andrew Miller and an error by third baseman Brandon Inge.

Hunter started the scoring when he beat out an infield single with the bases loaded, allowing Mauer to score from third.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland vehemently argued the close play at first, and Rondell White followed with a line drive off Inge's glove. The error allowed two more runs to score and Phil Nevin finished off the rally with an RBI-double that gave the Twins a 9-4 lead.

"It would've been nice to win tonight, but I certainly didn't do my part," Miller said.

Pat Neshek (4-1) threw 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to back rookie starter Matt Garza and give the Twins a much-needed win in a hotly contested AL playoff race. The Twins lead the White Sox by a half-game in the AL wild-card race.

The Tigers left 10 runners on base, including four in scoring position, and let two leads slip away.

"We had a little something going there but the kiss of death is we get two, we give up two," Leyland said. "We get two more, we give up three. That usually spells a loss, and that's what happened."

Detroit jumped ahead 2-0 in the third on a two-run double by Ordonez off Twins starter Matt Garza.

Cuddyer and Morneau had run-scoring singles in the bottom of the inning to tie the game, and the Tigers again took the lead in the fifth.

With his pitch count climbing thanks to four walks, the Tigers started to hit a tiring Garza hard in the fifth. Craig Monroe doubled home Ivan Rodriguez and scored on a sharp single by Ordonez for a 4-2 lead.

That was it for Garza, who gave up four runs and five hits while striking out six and walking four in 4 1/3 innings.

Once again, the Twins had an answer. Morneau's two-run double off Tigers starter Wilfredo Ledezma tied the game and Hunter's single scooted past a drawn-in infield to make it 5-4.

Ledezma (2-3) lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up five runs and nine hits.

Morneau and Mauer were both unavailable for comment after the game.

"You've got to be able to at least contain them," Leyland said. "You're not going to control them totally, but you've got to be able to control them a little bit. They showed tonight why they're both great hitters."

Notes

  • After INF Don Kelly cleared waivers on Friday, the Tigers sent him outright to Double-A Erie.
  • Nevin entered the game 1-for-10 in a Twins uniform. He was generously awarded a single in the fourth inning when a hard-hit grounder got past Inge.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Nick Punto falls while fielding a short-hopper, but finishes the game 2-for-5 with a run scored.  (AP)
Nick Punto falls while fielding a short-hopper, but finishes the game 2-for-5 with a run scored. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

M. Ordonez
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 4
Minnesota

J. Morneau
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 0
RBI 3
 

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Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF5010011 .260
Ivan Rodriguez, C5220033 .296
Craig Monroe, LF4211102 .269
Magglio Ordonez, RF4034100 .293
Carlos Guillen, SS3010111 .310
    Neifi Perez, SS0000000 .239
   a- Alexis Gomez, PH1000011 .258
Sean Casey, 1B5010015 .274
Marcus Thames, DH4000025 .263
Brandon Inge, 3B3000112 .247
Omar Infante, 2B4120011 .294
Totals38511541121 
a-struck out for Perez in the 9th
Batting
2B - Craig Monroe (31, Garza), Magglio Ordonez (30, Garza)
3B - Omar Infante (3, Garza)
RBI - Craig Monroe (81), Magglio Ordonez 4 (92)
2-OUT RBI - Magglio Ordonez 2 (31)
Team LOB - 10
Fielding
E - Brandon Inge (19, )
Detroit Tigers
Wil Ledezma (L,2-3) 4.1955110 3.13
Jason Grilli 0.2100100 3.44
Andrew Miller 0.2031300 4.91
Zach Miner 0.1210000 4.62
Mike Maroth 2100010 3.42
Pitches-Strikes - Wil Ledezma 76-54, Jason Grilli 13-6, Andrew Miller 18-5, Zach Miner 11-7, Mike Maroth 34-21
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Wil Ledezma 4-8, Jason Grilli 2-0, Andrew Miller 2-0, Zach Miner 2-0, Mike Maroth 2-3
Batters Faced - Wil Ledezma 23, Jason Grilli 4, Andrew Miller 5, Zach Miner 4, Mike Maroth 7
Minnesota Twins
Luis Castillo, 2B5000001 .295
Nick Punto, 3B5120000 .293
Joe Mauer, C4330101 .348
Michael Cuddyer, RF3221201 .278
Justin Morneau, 1B4223102 .319
Torii Hunter, CF5122002 .268
Rondell White, LF4000000 .219
    Lew Ford, PR-LF1000010 .220
Phil Nevin, DH3021110 .245
Jason Bartlett, SS4000005 .331
Totals3891375212 
Batting
2B - Justin Morneau (31, Ledezma), Phil Nevin (13, Miner)
3B - Nick Punto (6, Maroth)
RBI - Michael Cuddyer (94), Justin Morneau 3 (118), Torii Hunter 2 (74), Phil Nevin (65)
2-OUT RBI - Michael Cuddyer (48), Justin Morneau (49), Torii Hunter (36), Phil Nevin (36)
SB - Torii Hunter (7, 3rd base off Grilli/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 10
Minnesota Twins
Matt Garza 4.1544460 6.23
Dennys Reyes 0.1100000 0.84
Pat Neshek (W,4-1) 1.1200020 2.22
Jesse Crain 2100010 3.86
Juan Rincon 1211020 3.05
Pitches-Strikes - Matt Garza 91-58, Dennys Reyes 6-4, Pat Neshek 26-17, Jesse Crain 24-16, Juan Rincon 18-14
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Matt Garza 2-5, Pat Neshek 1-1, Jesse Crain 4-1, Juan Rincon 1-0
Batters Faced - Matt Garza 22, Dennys Reyes 2, Pat Neshek 6, Jesse Crain 7, Juan Rincon 5
Game Information
Attendance - 29042
Game Time - 3:14
Temperature - 70
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Charlie Reliford, Third Base - Larry Vanover