ASSOCIATED PRESS Enlarge
MINNEAPOLIS — Trevor Plouffe had three hits, including a two-run homer, in his return to the Twins lineup, and Sam Deduno held Detroit in check over seven innings in Minnesota's 6-3 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night.
Plouffe, back after missing 22 games because of a concussion and left calf strain, was a triple shy of the cycle. He drove in three runs in support of Deduno, who has allowed only five earned runs in his last five starts.
Deduno (3-1) gave up two runs and seven hits to win his third straight decision since being recalled in May. Glen Perkins added his 16th save in 18 chances.
After missing his previous start with shoulder stiffness, Anibal Sanchez struggled with pitch location and only lasted 3 2/3 innings for Detroit. Darin Downs (0-2) gave up three runs and five hits in relief of Sanchez, and took the loss.
Plouffe provided long-awaited production from third base for Minnesota. Jamey Carroll and Eduardo Escobar had split time at third during Plouffe's absence and went 10 for 89 (.112) with no home runs.
Plouffe, who turned 27 on Saturday, had returned from a concussion on May 30. He was scheduled to be in the starting lineup then but he injured a calf before the game and went back on the disabled list.
Plouffe, a first-round pick by the Twins in 2004, has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency throughout his career. He started to show promise last year during a mid-summer power surge and finished with 24 home runs in 422 at-bats. He nearly homered a second time Saturday, but the ball hit high off the left-field fence. Plouffe homered twice on his birthday last season.
Sanchez was done two batters after Plouffe's homer after he issued his season-high tying fourth walk. Sanchez was deemed healthy enough to pitch after he went 10 days between starts because of a troublesome shoulder.
After walking two batters to start the second, Sanchez was met on the mound by manager Jim Leyland and Detroit's trainer. He stayed in the game, but walked two more batters.
The homer by Plouffe was the first Sanchez allowed to a right-handed hitter this season. He has given up four home runs in seven starts after not allowing any in his first six.
Minnesota had its biggest offensive output since June 2, a span of 11 games, and Deduno made the runs stand up.
The young right-hander, who starred in the World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic, gave up nine hits and six runs at Detroit in his first start of the season on May 24. He has allowed two runs or fewer in his last four starts and has helped solidify the Twins' trouble in the rotation.
NOTES: Jhonny Peralta has a nine-game hitting streak against the Twins. He has hit safely in 45 of his last 55 games and owns a .333 batting average, third best in the American League.