DETROIT -- Eddie Rosario's three-run home run and Max Kepler's two-run shot powered the Twins in front before withstanding a Tigers charge, earning Minnesota a 9-4 win over Detroit on Friday night at Comerica Park.
The Twins' season-high sixth straight win moved them into the lead for the second American League Wild Card spot, a half-game ahead of the Mariners and Rays, who lost Friday night. Minnesota remained 3 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Central.
The Twins' win streak is their longest since Aug. 20-26, 2015, and it's pulled them two games over .500 for the first time since July 22, when Kyle Gibson pitched them to a win over the Tigers at Target Field. Gibson didn't last through the fifth inning Friday, but his run support helped the bullpen carry it through.
"The guys are excited," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We had to dig a little bit tonight, especially coming off the late flight and late arrival, which does have an effect as much as you try to be mentally tough. Took us a while to get untracked in that game. Gibby battled a little bit more tonight than his last couple of starts, but we picked him up."
Both Twins homers came off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (3-3), who has yielded seven over his last two starts after surrendering five over his first eight since rejoining Detroit's rotation. Brian Dozier hit an RBI triple and Kepler added more insurance with an RBI single in the seventh, helping send the Tigers to their sixth loss in their last seven games. Joe Mauer hit a two-run single in the ninth, giving him, Rosario and Kepler three hits apiece as part of Minnesota's 16-hit attack.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Buxton with turnaround catch:Miguel Cabrera delivered one of the hardest-hit line drives of his struggling second half, a 109-mph liner that turned Byron Buxton around in deep center. Buxton not only recovered, however, but he ran down the drive for a diving catch just in front of the warning track for the second out of the fourth inning.
"As hard as he hit it, I thought it was going to stay straight," Buxton said. "But I took a glance at the wall, and once I looked back, I realized it was on [the left side] of my shoulder. I had a little bit of time to turn my head back the other way and pick the ball back up."
Kepler gets two: Three innings after Kepler drove in two runs, he denied the Tigers two and thwarted Detroit's comeback attempt. John Hicks came within feet of a game-tying three-run homer in the eighth inning, but Kepler made a leaping catch at the right-field fence. Nicholas Castellanos made a late try to scramble back to second base and tag up, allowing Kepler to relay the ball to Dozier, who threw Castellanos out easily at third to end the inning.
"I read it right, and when I tagged up, I thought I was early, so I went back to go tag up again," Castellanos said. "Looking back, would I have gone? No, but I can't do that. It is what it is."
"I do my best to defend guys. I can't defend that. I don't really know what was going through Nick's mind. We're down three runs. You're gonna have to ask Nick, because I really don't know what happened there." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, on Castellanos tagging up
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The victory was Molitor's 200th as Twins manager.
WHAT'S NEXT Twins: Right-hander Jose Berrios (10-5, 3.86 ERA) is set to start for the Twins in the second game of the series on Saturday at 5:10 p.m. CT. Berrios gave up five runs in five innings last time out, but he still picked up the win against the Rangers.
Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann (5-6, 5.64) takes the mound looking for his fourth consecutive seven-inning quality start as the series continues Saturday with a 6:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Zimmermann's last non-quality start came at Minnesota, where the Twins roughed him up for five runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings.