MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The first-place Minnesota Twins didn’t get many hits off Detroit starter Matthew Boyd, but they certainly made them count.
C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop homered, Martín Pérez pitched six solid innings and Minnesota beat the last-place Detroit Tigers 7-4 on Sunday to win two of three in the weekend series.
“It was a good effort from all of our guys, top to bottom,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said.
Minnesota increased its AL Central lead to 3½ games over the Cleveland Indians, who lost at home to Kansas City 9-8 in 10 innings.
Cron’s three-run shot to center field broke open a 2-0 game in the fourth and gave Pérez (9-5) plenty of cushion to work with. The left-hander allowed two runs and five hits for his first win since July 5. It was the second time in his last three starts that Pérez went six innings and yielded two or fewer runs.
“If you stay on the attack, you’re going to throw a lot of strikes and you’re not going to let the hitters feel comfortable,” Pérez said. “That’s the key. I’m going to continue to do that.”
The Twins were encouraged by Pérez’s outing. After a strong start to the year, Pérez hit a rough patch in late July and early August. His last three starts have been a step in the right direction as September approaches.
“He was definitely attacking today,” catcher Mitch Garver said. “Gave up a few hits on some off-speed pitches that we’d like back but at the same time, the way he controlled the game at that point was pretty impressive.”
Boyd (6-10) permitted just four hits but was tagged for seven runs in six innings. He walked a season-high five, including the leadoff batter in each of the first three innings.
Boyd gave up two doubles in addition to the two home runs. He has served up 32 long balls this season, behind only Mike Leake (34) and Justin Verlander (33) for most in the majors.
“Today, really the walks were undoing,” Boyd said. “Guys are going to hit home runs. These guys hit home runs all day long.”
Minnesota leads the majors with 253 homers.
Schoop hit a two-run shot off Boyd in the sixth. His 18th home run of the year was a line drive that barely cleared the fence in left field but gave the Twins a 7-2 advantage.
Having a big lead allowed Baldelli to rest the core of his bullpen.
Cody Stashak pitched two scoreless innings. Lewis Thorpe allowed two runs in the ninth and was optioned to Triple-A Rochester after the game. The Twins will make a corresponding move on Tuesday.
Detroit finished a 3-7 road trip after dropping the final two games in Minnesota.
“You’ve still got to find ways to win a series and we haven’t been able to do that,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Now we get to go home and that’s a place we really have to start playing better.”
The teams meet again next weekend for four games in Detroit.
Twins: Baldelli said he thinks OF Eddie Rosario (hamstring) will be able to avoid the injured list despite not playing Sunday, the third straight game he missed. … OF Byron Buxton began a rehab assignment with Class A Cedar Rapids as he works his way back from an injured left shoulder that has kept him out since Aug. 1. Buxton doubled in his first at-bat with the Kernels on Sunday and went 1 for 2 with a run.
Tigers: RHP Spencer Turnbull (3-12, 4.05 ERA) is scheduled to start the series opener against Cleveland on Tuesday. He’s looking for his first win since May 31. He has lost his last three outings.
Twins: RHP Michael Pineda (9-5, 4.26 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday as Minnesota begins a 10-game road trip against the Chicago White Sox. It will be Pineda’s second straight outing against Chicago. He beat the White Sox last Tuesday.