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Johnson notches career-high 11 Ks

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers punctuated a feel-good
first half by winning five of their last six games.

What a difference a year can make.

Jason Johnson pitched a five-hitter for his first career
shutout, striking out a personal-best 11 and leading the Tigers to
a 2-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday.

Detroit, which went 43-119 in 2003, improved to 42-45 after
winning two of three from the Yankees in New York and taking three
of four from the Twins.

"It was a big game for us," Johnson said.

Eric Munson hit a two-run homer in the second inning, the only
mistake by Minnesota's Johan Santana, who reached double-digit
strikeouts for the fifth straight start.

"For us to win a series in New York and to win this series is
huge, because we could have had a real big letdown on this road
trip," Munson said. "Now we can take a few days off and feel good
about ourselves."

Monday's loss to New York was the fifth in a row for the Tigers,
but they bounced back against two first-place teams and head into
the All-Star break with confidence.

"I couldn't be happier for everybody," manager Alan Trammell
said.

The Twins started the week with four wins behind some stellar
starting pitching, including a club-record streak of 32 scoreless
innings. They had a sluggish weekend at the plate, though, and head
to the All-Star break with three straight losses.

They left 25 men on base in those games and fell a half-game
behind Chicago in the division race after the White Sox beat
Seattle. Detroit is tied for third place with Cleveland, 5½ games
back.

"Right now, we're going through a little tough time," manager
Ron Gardenhire said. "Our pitchers have been throwing the ball
fine. We just have to start scoring some runs."

Johnson (7-7) threw 119 pitches -- 84 for strikes -- and walked
one in his fourth career complete game. In his last outing, Johnson
held the Yankees to a run over eight innings.

"He was dealing," Trammell said. "His stuff was outstanding
all day."

So was Santana (7-6), who fanned 11 in eight innings and allowed
just two hits and two walks. He retired his last 18 batters after
bobbling a grounder by Omar Infante for an error in the third
inning.

"I did my best," Santana said. "That's the way this game
is."

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the second after twice being
thrown out trying to score.

Marcus Thames hit a double that Lew Ford misplayed, but the left
fielder made a perfect throw to third baseman Corey Koskie, who
fired home. Rookie catcher Joe Mauer blocked the plate with his
left foot and tagged Rondell White as he slid in.

Thames was running on contact when Mike DiFelice hit a chopper
to third, and Koskie again threw home to Mauer for an out. But
Munson crushed an 0-1 fastball that sailed over the tall blue
curtain in right field.

The long ball remains a problem for Santana, who has allowed a
team-high 18 home runs that account for 34 of his 52 earned runs.

Johnson's season statistics would be pretty decent if not for
two terrible April starts against the Twins in which he gave up 12
earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. He is 3-0 in his last five starts,
pitching into the eighth in each of those.

Johnson struck out everyone in the lineup at least once, except
Mauer and Jose Offerman, and lowered his ERA to 4.24.

"Everything was working, and I had great defense behind me,"
Johnson said. "When I work faster, I've got better control."

The Twins scored only five runs in these last three games.

"I guess this is a good time to have a break," Gardenhire
said.

Game notes
Munson was hitless in seven previous at-bats against
Santana. ... This was Detroit's last trip of the year to Minnesota.
The Tigers play a four-game series against the Twins at home in
September. ... Detroit is 19-50 against Minnesota since 2001. Seven
of those are this season. ... Santana's 136 strikeouts lead the AL.
... All 12 runs scored by the Tigers came on homers. They hit a
three-run shot, a two-run homer and nine solos.