Twins' Hernandez dazzles Tigers' offense in win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- As Livan Hernandez floated a 61-mph curveball toward the plate, Miguel Cabrera just couldn't resist.

He took a mighty cut at the Eephus-like pitch, only to pop up harmlessly into center field. Cabrera flung his bat in disgust and hollered some playful trash talk toward his friend Hernandez, a telling picture of this frustrating night for the Tigers.

Hernandez baffled Detroit's formidable offense for seven innings and the Minnesota Twins beat up the Tigers' normally reliable bullpen in an 11-1 victory Friday night.

Hernandez (4-1) gave up one run on eight hits to bounce back from a horrendous start in Texas, and the Twins scored four runs off Aquilino Lopez in the seventh inning to get some breathing room in their third straight win.

"Livan, he's an artist," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who teamed with Hernandez to win the World Series with the Florida Marlins in 1998. "He knows what he wants to do, who he wants to go after. Then he saves a pitch or two for a special occasion."

Magglio Ordonez went 2-for-3 with a solo homer for the Tigers, who appeared to finally be playing up to their potential after their first sweep of the Yankees in New York since 1966.

But Detroit couldn't muster much else against the wily Hernandez and the relievers faltered behind starter Armando Galarraga (2-1), who gave up four runs -- two earned -- on six hits.

The Tigers bullpen entered the game with a 1.10 ERA and a .110 opponents batting average over the previous 13 games, helping them claw back to one game under .500 after starting the season 2-10.

But after getting the first out of the seventh inning, Lopez gave up four runs on six straight hits, including a homer by Brendan Harris and RBI doubles from Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, before giving way to Denny Bautista.

Bautista then gave up three more runs in the eighth and left with shoulder soreness.

"This game got out of hand, totally," Leyland said.

Morneau had three hits and two RBIs for the Twins, who are playing this series without Ron Gardenhire. The manager returned to his home state of Oklahoma on Thursday after the sudden death of his older brother, Mike.

In his last start, Hernandez gave up seven runs on nine hits in just 2 2/3 innings of a 10-0 loss to the Rangers.

"Last time I pitched, it was difficult," Hernandez said. "When you pitch like that, you don't give your team a chance to win. It's difficult to come back from that."

After giving up the homer to Ordonez in the second, Hernandez wiggled out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam by getting Ivan Rodriguez to pop out and Jacque Jones to ground into a double play to end the inning and hold the Tigers to one run.

"The second inning was the big key," Leyland said. "We got nothing. If we get a big hit or two there, it turns the game around and we just didn't get it."

The big Cuban settled down after that, using every trick in his 33-year-old bag to keep the Tigers off balance.

His fastball never came close to 90 mph, but it must have looked a lot faster after Hernandez broke off a couple of those super-slow curves to get Guillen and Rodriguez looking.

"Everything worked the way I wanted," Hernandez said. "So I'm lucky. It was perfect."

The struggling Twins offense finally got going, too, topping five runs for just the second time in the last 13 games.

They entered the game last in the AL in on-base percentage and home runs and ahead of only Kansas City in runs scored.

"Our offense kind of exploded," said third-base coach Scott Ullger, who filled in for Gardenhire. "It was nice to see that happen at home."

Game notes
Twins CF Carlos Gomez left the game in the fifth inning after being hit in the head by a throw from Rodriguez while stealing second. After being examined in the clubhouse, team doctors said Gomez was OK. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he planned to give DH Gary Sheffield the day off Sunday. He also plans to rest Rodriguez one day, but said he hadn't decided between Saturday or Sunday.