MINNEAPOLIS – Phil Hughes threw seven strong innings and Josmil Pinto hit his fifth homer of the season and the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3 on Saturday.
Hughes (2-1) had six strikeouts with no walks. He retired 16 straight at one point and has won two straight – a welcome sight for a Twins rotation that had produced only six quality starts this season.
Detroit led 2-0 before starter Anibal Sanchez left in the third with a blister on his middle finger on his throwing hand, forcing newly recalled Jose Ortega (0-1) into action.
Ortega, who had just arrived from Triple-A Toledo, and Phil Coke then combined to walk six Twins batters – five in the fifth.
A throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday and a bases-loaded walk by Coke allowed Minnesota to tie the game in the fifth without a hit.
Trevor Plouffe’s two-RBI single off Coke to score Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier put the Twins ahead for good, and Pinto’s homer off Al Albuquerque in the eighth provided an insurance run.
Detroit took a first-inning lead after Sam Fuld couldn’t hang onto Miguel Cabrera’s fly to deep right, allowing Torii Hunter to score from first. Cabrera went to third on Fuld’s bad throw and scored on Victor Martinez’s sacrifice fly.
That was all the Tigers could muster against Hughes, though. The veteran right-hander made efficient work of Detroit’s lineup the next six innings. Jared Burton pitched a scoreless eighth and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his sixth save in seven chances.
Martinez led off the ninth with a homer.
Sanchez threw 53 pitches without allowing a hit and was in the middle of Dozier’s at-bat when Holaday, head trainer Kevin Rand and pitching coach Jeff Jones went to the mound.
Shortly after being joined by manager Brad Ausmus, Rand and Sanchez walked off the field.