Ordonez homered and drove in all three runs against his fellow Venezuelan, lifting the Tigers to a 3-2 victory over the Twins on Wednesday and ending Santana's five-start winning streak.
The All-Star right fielder is batting .419 with five homers in 43 at-bats against the two-time AL Cy Young winner, but the success only made him shrug.
"Last two games I didn't get a hit," Ordonez said. "Just one of those days you get lucky."
Santana (11-7) wasn't having it.
"I don't think luck. He's a pretty good hitter. He's been a pretty good hitter throughout his whole career," said Santana, who threw a season-high 118 pitches after persuading manager Ron Gardenhire to let him finish the eighth inning.
But the Twins scored only once in five innings against Andrew Miller (5-3) and wasted yet another strong starting performance -- leaving 14 men on base. They lost their third straight to the Tigers and trail the AL Central leaders by eight games.
Todd Jones recorded his 25th save in 29 attempts, a victory that was tainted a bit when Marcus Thames ended the eighth with a running shoestring catch of Joe Mauer's line drive and limped off with an injured left hamstring after rolling on the turf. Twins All-Star Torii Hunter got hurt, too, leaving in the fourth inning with a mild strain of his left hamstring.
Minnesota's previous two meetings with Detroit resulted in 1-0 defeats, including Tuesday's wasted gem by Matt Garza -- who threw seven innings with three hits and one unearned run given up.
This game developed the same way. No stranger to a lack of offensive support, Santana sailed through the first three innings with nine up, nine down and 35 pitches.
He needed the same number of throws, though, for the fourth when the Tigers showed one of the reasons why they're leading the division race for a second straight summer -- dangerous, experienced hitters.
With one out and two runners on, Ordonez drove a two-run double to left-center field on the sixth pitch he saw from Santana.
Then in the sixth, Ordonez swung at the first offering and sent it over the fence in center to extend Detroit's lead to 3-1 and suck some life out of the crowd of 38,070. Santana allowed five hits, those three runs and struck out seven with one walk.
"They battle all the time. They're not going to just be an easy out. They're always going to give you a tough time," Santana said.
The Twins fell behind the Tigers by as many as 12 games last summer before rallying to take the division on the final day of the regular season, but they aren't playing nearly as well this year. Catching up will be a major challenge.
This loss, a 3 1/2-hour affair, was especially draining mentally.
"It's pretty deflating. We had chances," said Michael Cuddyer, who went 4-for-4 with a walk and was stranded all five times - including after his leadoff single in the ninth.
Reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau followed by striking out, the seventh runner he left on base.
Miller walked four, but he struck out five and pitched well when the Twins threatened to score -- leaving with only four hits and one run against him.
"Maybe one day I'll go think back and think, 'I won a game against Johan Santana,"' Miller said. "But I only threw five innings."
Morneau struck out to end the first inning with two on and looked at strike three for the first out of the fourth following a single by Cuddyer. He drove in a run in the fifth when he was hit by Miller's bases-loaded pitch, but after working the count to 3-0 with two on and none out, Morneau popped out to second base in the seventh.
He wasn't the only culprit, though. Jason Kubel, who replaced Hunter, struck out looking in the fifth after Morneau got hit. After Luis Castillo's RBI groundout in the sixth brought Minnesota back within one, Jeff Cirillo popped out to the catcher with the bases loaded in the seventh and Lew Ford followed by flying out to center.
"We dodged a lot of bullets," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
- Thames said he would see how he felt on Thursday.
- Hunter's hamstring had been causing him mild soreness over the past few days, the reason he was excluded from the lineup in Sunday's game against Oakland.
- Detroit's Craig Monroe left after the fifth with back spasms.