DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge
DETROIT - Nearly 33,000 fans were on their feet cheering, hoping the Detroit Tigers would rally in the ninth inning to maintain their flickering playoff hopes.
They let out a collective sigh when Detroit fell short and took another step toward losing a chance to defend the American League title.
Minnesota's Carlos Silva shut down Detroit over 72/3 innings in a 2-0 victory last night that put the Tigers on the brink of being eliminated from the playoff race.
"I think it's kind of sad," losing pitcher Nate Robertson said. "A lot of people were enjoying our run.
"But we're still not out of it."
Mathematically, that's true.
The Tigers (85-71) are one loss, or a New York Yankees' win, from officially being relegated to watching this postseason. The Tigers have lost five of their last seven games, speeding up the seemingly inevitable conclusion to their season.
New York leads Detroit in the AL wild-card race by 5 1/2 games.
"There is not one guy here that is not going to show up until this is over," Detroit first baseman Sean Casey said.
Nick Punto's RBI single in the second inning and Jason Kubel's run-scoring single in the ninth produced all the offense for Minnesota, which has won five of seven to increase its chances of finishing with a winning record for the seventh straight year. The Twins (77-79) had lost seven in a row against the Tigers.
Detroit used its best lineup, but couldn't score against Silva (13-14), who gave up six hits without a walk and struck out one.
"A couple of runs was good enough against a real good team," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "You rarely shut those guys out."
The Tigers were shut out for just the third time in 157 games this season.
Glen Perkins got the final out of the eighth, with the potential tying run at second. Joe Nathan allowed two runners to get into scoring position in the ninth, but got Ivan Rodriguez to ground out for his 35th save in 39 chances.
"We had a chance, but he's one of the best closers in baseball," manager Jim Leyland said.
Robertson (8-13) took the loss despite giving up only one run and three hits over seven innings.
"He pitched extremely well. That's a shame," Leyland said. "That was a tough-luck loss."
Robertson struck out six and walked four, and one of those led to trouble.
Michael Cuddyer walked to lead off the second. Third baseman Brandon Inge then bobbled Matt LeCroy's grounder, and had to settle for a throw to first instead of a possible double play.
Punto's two-out single to left brought home Cuddyer.
Kubel's two-out single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth drove in pinch-runner Jason Tyner and made it 2-0.
The Tigers had two on and no outs in the sixth, but Silva got out of the jam with a double play - despite the Tigers executing a hit and run - and a pop up.
"With Carlos, a lot was said as to whether he would be able to help us this year," Gardenhire said. "He's answered those questions."
Casey hit a one-out single off Silva in the eighth, and pinch-runner Cameron Maybin stole second. Inge lined out, then pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn grounded out against Perkins.
Silva, who will have a chance to match his career-high 14 victories, said the key to his season has been trusting his changeup and slider to go along with his sinker.
"You have to learn new pitches," he said. "That's what I've been doing this year."
NOTES: Magglio Ordonez went 1-for-3, is hitting a baseball-best .358 and has a chance to be the first Tiger since Norm Cash in 1961 to win a batting title. ... Detroit right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (elbow) did not respond well enough to a bullpen session Saturday to get one last start this season.
Rondell White plans to retire after finishing this season with the Twins.
The popular outfielder and designated hitter said there is a "99 percent chance" he will hang up his spikes for good after this week.
"I missed four months this year. My body hurts," the 35-year-old White said yesterday. "There's a good chance this is it."
White was on the disabled list from April 10 until July 22 with a strained right calf, and he has often been sidelined with injuries since making his debut with the Montreal Expos in 1993.
After going 1-for-4 last night the one-time Tiger is hitting .158 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 101 at-bats over 35 games.
White has 197 home runs, 763 RBIs and a .283 batting average in his career with Montreal, the Chicago Cubs, the New York Yankees, San Diego, Kansas City, Detroit and Minnesota.-32.84641 -62.86166