DETROIT — Aaron Hicks hit a line drive to the right-field corner and immediately took off around the bases, reaching third to lead off the seventh inning.
That’s what the Twins were envisioning when they put the rookie in the lineup this year, and after a rough first month in the major leagues, Hicks began May in encouraging fashion.
Hicks’ triple started a two-run rally in the seventh, and the Twins went on to beat Detroit 6-2 on Wednesday, snapping the Tigers’ five-game winning streak. Minnesota led 3-2 when Hicks tripled and scored. The former first-round draft pick was 8 for 73 before connecting with Bruce Rondon’s 101-mph fastball for an important hit.
“That was big for me,” Hicks said. “With no outs, that’s important to get more runs on the board, give our pitchers more of a cushion.”
Scott Diamond pitched six solid innings for Minnesota, and the Twins got to Anibal Sanchez early. Sanchez (3-2) was coming off a 17-strikeout performance against Atlanta, and he fanned five in the first two innings against the Twins — but Minnesota scored two runs in the first and another in the second.
Diamond (2-2) didn’t allow a hit until Jhonny Peralta’s single in the fifth.
“They won our division last year, made it to the World Series,” Diamond said. “They’re the team to beat right now. ... I enjoy facing them. I enjoy coming to Detroit and pitching here.”
The Tigers fought back after trailing 3-0, but Rondon allowed two more runs in the seventh to make it 5-2. Chris Parmelee hit a solo homer in the eighth.
Diamond allowed two runs and four hits and was pulled after 88 pitches.
Closer Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for Minnesota in a non-save situation. He allowed singles by Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder with nobody out, but Victor Martinez hit into a double play, helping Perkins out of the jam.
Sanchez allowed three runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out nine and walked two. Reliever Jose Ortega struck out two in the ninth, giving the Detroit staff 11 strikeouts for the game. It was the sixth consecutive game for the Tigers with at least 10 strikeouts — the longest streak by an American League team since at least 1921.
Sanchez struck out the first two hitters he faced, but his command was poor early on. He walked Josh Willingham and allowed an RBI double by Justin Morneau. After a walk by Ryan Doumit, Parmelee hit a single to left. Morneau tried to score from second, and although Matt Tuiasosopo’s throw home was a good one, catcher Brayan Pena couldn’t hold onto the ball while trying to make a quick tag.
After one inning, Sanchez had already thrown 41 pitches. Minnesota struck out three times in the second but took a 3-0 lead on Jamey Carroll’s RBI double. Sanchez only pitched eight innings in the game against the Braves, so after two innings Wednesday, he had 22 strikeouts in his last 10.
The right-hander’s control came around eventually, and he retired his last 11 hitters.
“I think Sanchy was just too excited at the start,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “He was throwing too hard, and it hurt his command. He got it back, because he’s an excellent pitcher, and we were able to get it within one.”
But Diamond didn’t give up the lead. A line drive by Tuiasosopo in the second appeared to hit him in the right leg, but the left-hander recovered in time to make the play.
Diamond missed the start of the season after elbow surgery in December, but he’s gone at least six innings in three of his four starts.
“I felt like I had a lot better stuff today,” Diamond said. “Today was a big step in the progression toward getting back.”
Torii Hunter hit an RBI single in the sixth to get Detroit on the scoreboard, and Cabrera followed with an RBI double, but Diamond retired Fielder and Martinez on groundouts to end the inning.
Hicks’ role increased after the Twins traded center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere to Philadelphia. He hasn’t been hitting well, but after he led off the seventh with a triple, Pedro Florimon slapped a single up the middle to put Minnesota up 4-2.
Rondon walked two hitters to load the bases before being taken out. Darin Downs allowed an RBI single by Morneau before getting Doumit to ground into a double play to end the threat.
Parmelee’s homer made it 6-2 the following inning.
NOTES: Sanchez threw 115 pitches. ... Since 1974, the most strikeouts for a pitcher over the course of 10 consecutive innings is 23, according to STATS. ... Detroit travels to Houston for a four-game series. Rick Porcello (1-2) is expected to start Thursday night for the Tigers. Minnesota has Thursday off.
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