Minnesota Twins' Trevor Plouffe (24) reacts to being called out on strikes by first base umpire Jordan Baker as Detroit Tigers catcher Brayan Pena (55) heads to the dugout in the fifth inning.
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Justin Morneau had a season high four hits, including a two-run homer and a two-run double, and Glen Perkins struck out Miguel Cabrera with two on for the final out to help the Minnesota Twins hold off the Detroit Tigers in a 6-3 win Tuesday night.
Mike Pelfrey (5-10) gave up three runs and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. Jared Burton got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the eighth, and Perkins finished for his 29th save in 32 chances — barely.
Detroit catcher Brayan Pena led off the ninth with a single and appeared to hurt his right leg running to first base before he was replaced by Bryan Holaday. After walking Austin Jackson with two outs, Cabrera came to the plate.
The fans that stuck around rose to their feet only to go home disappointed when the reigning AL MVP swung and missed on a third strike.
Rick Porcello (9-7) allowed five runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings for Detroit.
The Twins were without All-Star Joe Mauer, who was scratched from his start at first when he experienced dizziness during batting practice.
Minnesota might end the season without Morneau, who can be traded by the end of the month because he cleared waivers. Manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game he would love for Morneau to finish his career with the franchise, adding the decision isn’t up to him.
Gardenhire also said before the game he didn’t plan to put Mauer behind the plate during the series, insisting the decision had nothing to do with Mauer’s mask getting hit by a lot of baseballs when he played catcher Monday against the New York Mets. A couple hours later, Mauer was taken out of the lineup.
The Twins put Morneau, who is in the final year of his contract, on revocable waivers last week and he wasn’t claimed. He was drafted by Minnesota in 1999 and has been a cornerstone of the team for a decade.
Prince Fielder hit his 20th homer to get the Tigers within two runs in the fourth inning, but they allowed Minnesota to build its lead in each of the next two innings.
Phil Coke pitched in relief of Porcello and Morneau sent his first pitch into the right-field gap to put Minnesota up 5-1 in the fifth inning.
Following the game, Coke was sent to Triple-A Toledo to work on his control and left-handed pitcher Jose Alvarez was recalled.
“We’re not down on Phil Coke,” Leyland insisted. “He’s coming back Sept. 1.”
That wasn’t of much consolation for Coke.
“I’m not happy,” he said. “I don’t know who would be.”
Torii Hunter tripled and scored on a groundout in the sixth against one of his former teams to pull Detroit within four. The Tigers chased Pelfrey in the seventh with a pair of two-out singles. Josh Roenicke entered and gave up an RBI single to Jackson that made it 6-3, and then got Hunter to pop up in foul territory to strand two runners.
Cabrera led off the eighth inning with a single. He moved to second on Victor Martinez’s one-out single, and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. But the runners were stranded when Burton got Andy Dirks to fly out to center and struck out Omar Infante.
NOTES: Tigers C Alex Avila, who hasn’t played since Aug. 10 because of concussion symptoms, participated in pregame drills on the field and will wear a mask with more padding when he returns to play. ... Minnesota recalled RHP Michael Tonkin from Triple-A Rochester, giving him the roster spot opened by the demotion of starting pitcher Kyle Gibson to Rochester. ... Infante played for the first time since leaving Saturday’s game with a stiff back. ... The Twins want to see RHP Samuel Deduno pitch in the bullpen before letting him take his start in the rotation Friday because he has biceps tendinitis. ... Porcello had given up three or fewer runs in each of his previous eight starts. ... Twins OF Oswaldo Arcia was out of the lineup because of a sore left wrist.