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Peralta, Tigers slug way past Twins

July 22, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — Since getting a day off, Jhonny Peralta has been crushing the ball over the last two nights against the Twins. Following a 3-for-4 performance on Thursday night, Peralta added three more hits on Friday night in the Tigers’ 8-2 victory at Target Field.

For the second straight game, Peralta finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. He belted a solo homer in the second, drove in two runs with a third-inning single and doubled home another run in the fifth.

The home run was his 16th of the season, and the four RBIs boosted his season total to 58.

“He’s in the midst of a real good year,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. “He’s really been a perfect fit for us in that area, sandwiched in between Victor and Carlos. He’s absolutely been tremendous.

“I think what he’s done so far this year is he’s capitalized on mistakes. When they’ve made mistakes, he hasn’t missed them very often.”

In 12 career games at Target Field, Peralta is batting .432 (19-for-44) with eight runs, two doubles, five homers and 15 RBIs, including seven RBIs over the last two nights. He has homered in each of his last five games in Minnesota.

Over his last 13 games against the Twins, Peralta has 21 RBIs, including 13 this season.

“He’s hot, is swinging good and is on the ball,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Right now, he’s about as locked in as we’ve seen him.”

With the win, the Tigers’ 11th straight over the Twins, they increased their lead in the American League Central to 1 1/2 games over the Indians, who lost on Friday to the White Sox.

With more than 60 games to go in the regular season, though, the Tigers still say that they aren’t paying much attention to the standings.

“At this point in the year, we’re concentrating on ourselves,” said Tigers starter Max Scherzer. “We know that we can win this division. We know that we’re good and we know we’ve got the talent. We just feel like if we go out there and compete every day and keep these winning streaks going, then we’re going to be the team on top.”

Every Tigers player had at least one hit on the night and five different players scored a run.

Left fielder Ryan Raburn went 2-for-4 on the night with a solo home run in the first and two runs scored. Magglio Ordonez also had two hits with a pair of runs scored, and Carlos Guillen drove in two with a single.

Detroit jumped all over Twins lefty Brian Duensing, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings. Duensing surrendered seven runs on nine hits, walking one and striking out seven. In two starts this year against the Tigers, Duensing is 0-1 with a 12.54 ERA, allowing 13 runs on 18 hits in 9 1/3 innings.

Duensing opened each of the first two innings with a strikeout, followed by a home run, followed by another strikeout. He struck out the side in the second to go along with a homer and a single, but big innings in the third and fifth did him in.

“Their whole lineup is stacked,” Duensing said. “They have the standard big guys in the middle of the lineup, but one through nine is pretty good and is producing right now. So that makes them even more dangerous.”

With the offense putting up plenty of runs to support him, Scherzer delivered an impressive outing, giving up just one run over seven innings of work. The right-hander struck out four batters while allowing just four hits and one walk.

Scherzer faced just four over the minimum in his seven frames, as he won for the 11th time this season. He allowed more than one baserunner only once, when the Twins had two singles and scored their only run of the game in the second inning.

Over his last three starts, Scherzer is 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA, allowing just four runs on 18 hits with one walk and 12 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings pitched.

“He really had a pretty comfortable seven innings,” Leyland said. “I thought he did a good job. He didn’t really tire at all, I didn’t think.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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