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Tigers hold off Twins 6-5

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The Detroit Tigers surged to a 5-0 lead off Twins' starter Brian Duensing, and held off the rallying Twins to earn a split in a day-night double header on Tuesday at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Justin Verlander started for Detroit and was lights out for the first five innings. But he ran into trouble in the sixth and eighth, giving up two runs in each inning as the Twins clawed back from an early deficit. Fernando Rodney relieved him in the ninth--after Verlander had thrown a season high 129 pitches--with a two-run lead and managed to save the game despite surrendering the Twins fifth run.

The insurance run came on a Curtis Granderson homer in the eighth off of Matt Guerrier, and it turned out to be the game winner.

Duensing did not have his best command on this night. He was continually falling behind hitters and working out of jams. It was bound to catch up with him at some point, and it did in the third with the Twins still comfortably behind 1-0.

With two on and two outs in the third, Duensing threw a hitable slider to Maglio Ordonez on a 3-2 count, and Ordonez doubled down the left field line to score both runners. In that situation, Duensing needs to throw a different pitch, probably the fastball, because it has to be a strike and the slider is not an effective strike pitch for him. The pitch is effective when he's ahead in the count and he can throw it down and in to a right handed hitter such as Ordonez. But it's the perfect pitch for a slider-speed bat like Ordonez to nail if it's in the strike zone. Ordonez did what he should have done, and that was the point of the game where Duensing needed to get an out.

Another key moment came after Duensing loaded the bases on walks (one intentional) with two outs in the fifth. Ron Gardenhire went to his sixth-best reliever--Bobby Keppel--to try to get out of the jam. Keppel delivered a first-pitch cookie down the middle to Brandon Inge, who laced it to left for a two-run single.

Damage control in either of those two innings would have kept the game within reach. But despite heroics by Denard Span, Orlando Cabrera and Jason Kubel, the Twins could not overcome those two key pitches.

The split puts the Twins right back where they started this morning, except time is running out to catch the Tigers. The last two games of this series are must-win games if they hope to catch the Tigers from two games behind with five games to play.

Studs:

1. Orlando Cabrera: He was in the middle of every rally, going 3-4 with 2 runs scored and an RBI.

2. Denard Span: Another two-hit, two-RBI game for Span. He also made a nice catch in right.

3. Jason Kubel: Also had two hits and two RBI off of Verlander.

Duds:

3. Brian Duensing: He has to throw more strikes early in the count and use his off-speed pitches as out pitches.

2. Bobby Keppel: When you come in with the bases loaded, you have to make a better pitch.

1. Michael Cuddyer: His outs ended four innings, stranding three runners in scoring position.

0. Gardy: Hello, Jesse Crain has not allowed a run since early August and you bring in Keppel?