Series: Game 2 of 3

Minnesota leads 2-0 (as of 9/10)

Game 1: Monday, September 9
Detroit 2Final
Minnesota 5
Game 2: Tuesday, September 10
Detroit 4Final
Minnesota 11
Game 3: Wednesday, September 11
Detroit 2Final
Minnesota 8

Tigers 4

(52-93, 21-53 away)

Twins 11

(84-61, 48-26 home)

    8:05 PM ET, September 10, 2002

    Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    123456789 R H E
    DET 020020000 4 - -
    MIN 30032300 - 11 - -

    W: K. Lohse (12-8)

    L: S. Loux (0-1)

    Hunter helps put Twins' magic number at five

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Even when he's in a hitting slump, Torii Hunter always has his glove and his arm.

    Torii Hunter
    Center Field
    Minnesota Twins
    135 28 88 86 22 .292

    Hunter hit a three-run homer and threw out two runners from center field to Tuesday night lead the Twins to a 11-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

    "That's why he's up for the MVP award,'' Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire. "That's the guy we know and love.''

    Dustan Mohr went 3-for-4 with a homer for the Twins, who lowered their magic number to five for clinching the AL Central and their first playoff berth since winning the World Series in 1991. They had a season-high 11 extra-base hits and scored their most runs since July 22, improving to 40-19 against their division.

    Hunter's numbers have tailed off -- 20 of his career-high 28 homers came before the All-Star break -- but he's still batting .292 with a team-high 88 RBIs.

    Cristian Guzman, who went 3-for-5, singled in the first and took third on a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Corey Koskie. Then Hunter hit Shane Loux's first pitch 402 feet to straightaway center and put the Twins up 3-0.

    Lohse gave up three sharp singles in the fourth, but Hunter, a Gold Glove winner last year, preserved the lead.

    Bobby Higginson tried to stretch his leadoff hit into a double, but Hunter threw him out easily at second. Robert Fick singled and tried to take an extra base on Mike Rivera's single, but Hunter got him on a close play at third.

    "He's been doing it all year for us,'' Mohr said. "If Torii doesn't make those plays, maybe the game goes the other way.''

    Detroit manager Luis Pujols was disappointed.

    "I know you want to be aggressive,'' he said, "but you've got to be smart, too.''

    Twins starter Kyle Lohse (12-8), pitching for the first time since Aug. 31 because of a handful of off days, surrendered four runs and nine hits in five innings while striking out seven.

    Robert Fick singled leading off the second and scored on a triple by Carlos Pena, who pulled Detroit to 3-2 on Eric Munson's groundout that glanced off Lohse's glove.

    Pulling to 6-4, the Tigers got four straight one-out hits in the fifth against Lohse. Gardenhire considered pulling him, but Lohse struck out Bobby Higginson and got Fick to fly out to Hunter to earn his second victory since July 24.

    "I knew I was struggling,'' Lohse said, "but I always feel like I can get out of it. Hopefully, he (Gardenhire) knows it, too.''

    He does now, if not before.

    "His first time out there in awhile,'' Gardenhire said. "You have to give him a little leeway there, but he battled through it.''

    Omar Infante hit a two-run homer -- his first in the majors -- for the Tigers, who have lost 11 of 13. Loux (0-1) lost his major league debut, giving up six runs -- five earned -- and six hits in four innings.

    Loux, drafted out of high school in the second round by Detroit in 1997, retired eight straight after Hunter's homer, but he was roughed up in the fourth.

    The Twins scored three times with three straight two-out hits -- the last coming when A.J. Pierzynski tripled and scored on an error when second baseman Damion Easley's relay throw sailed over Chris Truby's head at third and nearly into the seats.

    "The first inning was kind of rough, but it was pretty much what I expected,'' said Loux, who had 17 family members in attendance. "I was pretty nervous.''

    Game notes

    Pierzynski set the team record for triples by a catcher with six, and Guzman tripled for the second straight night. After leading the majors each of the last two seasons, Guzman has only six this year. He said he wouldn't mind if his slower teammate wound up with more triples. "Oh, no, I think he'll be happy,'' Guzman said. ... On a strikeout in the fifth, Rivera's bat went flying down the line and rolled almost to the bullpen. Pena, on third base, wound up 10 feet toward second base off the bag in an attempt to dance out of the way and was almost thrown out by Pierzynski. ... The Tigers have used 54 players this year. Loux was the 13th to make his major league debut.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press