Hunter sparks Twins to fourth consecutive win

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Torii Hunter found his swing on Tuesday

night, in case anyone was worried.

His team wasn't.


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Hunter broke his slump by going 2-for-4 with a homer to help the

Minnesota Twins to a 6-4 victory over the scuffling Tigers -- their

12th straight over Detroit.

"It felt pretty good,'' said Hunter, now batting .149.

"I think he's going to be fine,'' said manager Ron Gardenhire.

"It was just a matter of time before he started rolling.''

Cristian Guzman went 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI triple

for the Twins, who won their fourth in a row since six consecutive

losses. Eddie Guardado gave up two hits in the ninth inning but

earned his fifth save in as many tries.

Carlos Pena gave the scoring-starved Tigers a lift and a brief

lead with a two-run homer in the fourth, but they fell to 1-11 and

dropped the first of a 12-game road trip.

Hunter, who began the game with one hit in his last 20 at-bats,

led off the second with his first homer of the year since signing a

four-year, $32 million contract in January.

Just about the only one who didn't improve his average in the

Twins' three-game sweep of Toronto over the weekend, Hunter

collected his team-leading ninth RBI on a 1-1 pitch from Tigers

starter Mike Maroth.

Doug Mientkiewicz, who had two of Minnesota's 12 hits, barked

encouragement to his teammate as their paths crossed near the


"You could see it was killing him,'' Mientkiewicz said. "It

was just a matter of Torii relaxing.''

Maroth (0-4) had a 2-1 lead after four that he couldn't hold.

"He's pitched better than his record indicates,'' rookie

manager Alan Trammell said. "But it seems like we've been saying

that a lot.''

Hunter sparked a four-run sixth with a leadoff single, scoring

the go-ahead run on Matthew LeCroy's splintered-bat roller to deep


Maroth gave up five runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings while

striking out three. Luis Rivas delivered an RBI double against

Chris Spurling, and Jacque Jones drove in two with a single off

side-arming lefty Jamie Walker.

The inexperienced Tigers have given Trammell decent pitching and

fielding so far, but their offense has been brutal.

They got four runs -- two earned -- off Minnesota starter Kyle

Lohse (2-1) but just three hits.

Veterans Bobby Higginson (.190), Dean Palmer (.100) and Dmitri Young (.114) aren't doing much to inspire the young guys.

"It's obvious they're trying to do something extra, and that's

to be expected,'' Trammell said.

Young said the veteran players have to worry about more than

simply not hitting. They're trying to set an example for the

younger ones.

"We have to keep our heads up,'' he said.

Trailing 6-2 in the seventh, Eric Munson drove in two with a

one-out double after Twins second baseman Rivas threw a potential

double-play relay into left field for an error.

Lohse went 6 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out eight

while batting a bit of a cold.

Lohse, who gave up a career-low two hits over eight innings in a

victory at Detroit on April 3 and entered the game with the lowest

batting average against (.100) among major league starters, didn't

allow a hit until the fourth.

His ERA at 1.69 and his changeup working well, Lohse has been

the best of the Twins' rotation so far.

"I have confidence I can throw any pitch at any time,'' he


Ramon Santiago -- the only Tiger hitting above .250 -- doubled

high off the right-field curtain with one out, missing a homer by a

few feet.

Then Pena hammered Lohse's next pitch into the folded football

seats in straightaway center field, giving Detroit a 2-1 lead.

Guzman -- who had the most triples in the majors (34) from

2000-01 but managed only six last year with ailing knees and

shoulders -- picked up his third three-base hit of the young season

to tie the game at 2 in the fifth.

"If they give it to me, I'll take it,'' Guzman said with a


Rivas, who singled, scored easily with two outs as Guzman sped

around the infield after his smash to the gap in right-center.

Game notes

Detroit's last victory over Minnesota was May 5, 2002, at

the Metrodome. ... Twins RHP Mike Fetters, who strained his left

hamstring April 5, will throw a simulated game on Wednesday. He's

eligible to come off the disabled list and rejoin the bullpen on

Sunday. ... LaTroy Hawkins and J.C. Romero bridged the gap between

Lohse and Guardado. Romero tossed a hitless inning despite a sore

right (non-throwing) shoulder that makes it painful to pull his

shirt over his head. He said the pain might stem from a batted ball

that glanced off him Toronto.