DETROIT (AP) - Jose Valverde has been untouchable in save situations for the Detroit Tigers.
The rest of the time, he's a mess.
Valverde gave up two runs in the top of the ninth inning and the Minnesota Twins held on to beat the first-place Tigers 6-5 Wednesday night. Valverde has converted all 35 save attempts this year, but has a 6.88 ERA in non-save situations.
``I don't think there's a difference - the ninth inning is my spot,' Valverde said. ``It doesn't matter if it is tied or ready for a save. I made one mistake and we lost the game.'
The loss, combined with Cleveland's win, left the Tigers just two games ahead of the Indians heading into a three-game series between the teams starting Friday.
``Tomorrow's a big day to clear our heads and get ready,' said Brennan Boesch. ``We know this is a big series coming up this weekend.'
With the game tied at 4, Rene Tosoni led off the top of the ninth with a single off Valverde (2-4). Tsuyoshi Nishioka and Ben Revere both reached when the Tigers misplayed sacrifice bunts on errors by Valverde and Wilson Betemit.
``That's what really hurt us - not turning bunts into outs,' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``That's the cardinal rule of baseball - you have to turn a bunt into an out. (Valverde) charged the ball too quickly and that set up the whole inning.'
Valverde struck out Trevor Plouffe and Joe Mauer, but Justin Morneau hit a ball up the middle to make it 6-4.
``Everybody knows that he's a good hitter,' Valverde said. ``I threw my best pitch and he hit it. Nothing you can do.'
Joe Nathan allowed an RBI single to Miguel Cabrera in the bottom of the inning but still picked up his 11th save. He is 33 for 33 lifetime in save opportunities against Detroit.
Matt Capps (4-6) got the win after finishing the eighth inning.
The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on Jim Thome's 601st homer, his third in less than 48 hours.
Detroit tied the game on Delmon Young's sacrifice fly in the third. It could have been a two-run double but Revere made a diving catch in center field. Revere had already robbed Young - his teammate until Monday - of another extra-base hit with an over-the-shoulder catch in the first.
``That's why they are trying to get him in the lineup every day,' Young said with a rueful smile. ``With his speed, he can cover so much ground - too much ground in my opinion these days.'
Revere said he had given Young fair warning.
``When he got traded, I told him not to hit the ball to me because I was going to snag it,' he said. ``He just said 'I know. I know.''
Detroit went ahead 2-1 in the sixth on Jhonny Peralta's 17th homer, but Brad Penny couldn't get an out in the seventh. Danny Valencia led off the inning with a double into the gap in right-center, and Tosoni followed with his third career homer.
Cabrera's RBI single made it 3-3 in the bottom of the inning, but Boesch was thrown out trying to score from first to end the inning.
The teams traded eighth-inning runs, with Thome's RBI single countered by Betemit's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Thome has as many homers at Comerica Park this week (3) as Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge have combined to hit there this season. ... The Twins start a four-game home series against the Yankees on Thursday, with Brian Duensing (8-11) facing New York's CC Sabathia (16-7). ... Detroit is off Thursday before hosting a weekend series with Cleveland. ... The Tigers announced before the game that they had sent minor league closer Chance Ruffin to Seattle to complete a July 30 trade. The Tigers got SP Doug Fister and RP David Pauley for SP Charlie Furbush, OF Casper Wells, Ruffin and another minor leaguer. ... Two of Tosoni's three homers have come against the Tigers.
The Associated Press News Service
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