DETROIT (AP) - So far, the 2012 Detroit Tigers look nothing like the juggernaut the Motor City was hoping for.
``The only thing that has been consistent for this team is the inconsistency, and that's mind boggling to me,' manager Jim Leyland said. ``We just aren't putting together the combinations that we need to win.'
Justin Morneau hit a two-run homer in his second game back from a wrist injury, and the Minnesota Twins held on for a 4-3 victory over the Tigers on Thursday. Detroit fell two games under .500 and now trails first-place Cleveland by four in the AL Central. Detroit won the division by 15 last season.
P.J. Walters (1-1) allowed four hits - including three solo homers - in 6 1-3 innings for the Twins, who swept the two-game series at Comerica Park. Minnesota (12-26) has won two in a row for only the second time this season.
``We had some good things happen - a good couple of wins here,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``This is a great team. This is the team everybody's picked to win this division, and you come in here and you win a couple of ballgames against them, and you go toe to toe with them. It's a good feeling. It's something we can kind of build off of.'
Morneau's homer off Doug Fister (0-2) opened the scoring in the third, and Trevor Plouffe followed with a long ball. Minnesota led 4-0 before the Tigers came back with homers by Brennan Boesch, Andy Dirks and Prince Fielder.
Three relievers finished for the Twins, with Matt Capps pitching a perfect ninth for his eighth save.
Francisco Liriano came on with two on and one out in the seventh and got pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago to hit into a double play. Glen Perkins walked the first two Detroit hitters in the eighth on nine pitches, but he struck out Prince Fielder, and Delmon Young hit into a double play to end that inning.
Detroit, which signed Fielder in the offseason after reaching the AL championship series a year ago, is 9-17 since a 9-3 start.
``We made some mistakes today, and when you aren't playing well, those will come back to bite you,' Leyland said. ``When you are playing well, you overcome things like that and you win the game.'
The Tigers were hoping for a strong start from Fister after allowing 19 runs in their previous two games against the Twins and Chicago White Sox, but the Detroit right-hander was in trouble from the start.
Minnesota left the bases loaded in the first, and Fister got out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the second after he stepped toward third and threw back to first to catch Jamey Carroll off base for the second out of the inning.
With two outs in the third, Morneau and Plouffe hit back-to-back homers. It was Morneau's fifth of the year and first since coming off the disabled list. He returned to the lineup Wednesday night after being on the DL since May 1 with a sore left wrist.
Fister, who missed most of April with a left side strain, hadn't allowed a run at Comerica since Aug. 30.
``It was about executing pitches,' Fister said. ``I couldn't keep the ball down. It's a constant battle, and today I didn't execute pitches.'
Minnesota added a crucial run in the fifth after Fielder failed to catch Fister's throw to first on Josh Willingham's tapper. Willingham went all the way to third on the error, which was charged to Fielder, and Morneau drove him home with a groundball.
Boesch's homer in the bottom of the inning was Detroit's first hit off Walters. Dirks and Fielder added solo shots of their own in the sixth.
Fister allowed four runs - three earned - and nine hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked two.
NOTES: Boesch extended his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Detroit OF Austin Jackson was out of the lineup with an abdominal strain. ... Detroit RHP Luis Marte (left hamstring strain) has been assigned to Class A Lakeland as part of an injury rehabilitation assignment. ... Detroit sends Justin Verlander (4-1) to the mound Friday to start a three-game series against Pittsburgh. Charlie Morton (2-3) starts for the Pirates. ... The Twins are at Milwaukee. Scott Diamond (2-0) will start for Minnesota on Friday against Marco Estrada (0-2).
The Associated Press News Service
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