DETROIT -- Of the 12 losses that Brad Ausmus has incurred as Tigers manager, this was the toughest. For the first time, his team lost when it led in the eighth inning or later.
And the Tigers handed this one away. They had a two-run lead in the eighth, which is when Minnesota built a three-run rally out of Joba Chamberlain's wildness and a pair of two-out singles on either side of a big error on leftfielder Rajai Davis. The Twins absconded with a 4-3 victory Sunday in the rubber game at Comerica Park.
Tigers left-hander Robbie Ray, in his second big-league start, exited with a 3-0 lead after six innings.
"The ball comes out of his hand pretty good with some deception," said three-time AL batting champion Joe Mauer, 1-for-3 off Ray.
"Right away he went to the change against me--left on left. A lot of lefties aren't very comfortable doing that. I saw that right away, which showed me had a lot of confidence in his other pitches. He has a good arm. I think he's pretty good."
With two out in the seventh, lefty Ian Krol allowed consecutive singles to lefty Chris Parmelee and pinch-hitter Danny Santana (RBI). Those hits allowed the top of the order to greet Chamberlain in the eighth.
Chamberlain, scored upon in one outing over the past month, hit Brian Dozier with his first pitch. Mauer walked on five pitches. Chamberlain fanned the next two hitters. Josmil Pinto pulled a full-count slider into left near the line for an RBI single. The ball skipped past Davis for an error as he tried to backhand it, allowing Mauer to score the tying run from first and put the go-ahead run in scoring position.
The next batter was Eduardo Nunez, Chamberlain's teammate on the Yankees the last four years. A moment after the Tigers' leftfielder made an error, Nunez--an infielder playing left field Sunday because of the Twins' dire outfield injury mess--lined a 3-1 pitch from Chamberlain into center to score Pinto with the go-ahead run, which was unearned because of Davis' error.
Ausmus said Davis got a bad hop. Davis said those words from the manager didn't make him feel any better. "I'm expected to make those plays, and I expect to win," he said. "It's tough when you lose a game (where) that could have been the difference."
In the Tigers' eighth, Miguel Cabrera reached second with one out. Victor Martinez lined what apparently would have been the tying single up the middle. The ball hit pitcher Casey Fien in the right arm, and he threw out Martinez. This offset the play in the Twins' sixth in which Trevor Plouffe's smash destined for center as a one-out RBI single deflected off Ray to shortstop Andrew Romine, who started an inning-ending double play.
Fien, the former Tiger, suffered a bruised arm from Martinez's drive, left for the lefty Perkins, who bid for his longest save of the season. With Cabrera on third, Nick Castellanos hit for Don Kelly. He said he missed centering Perkins' pitch by about a quarter of an inch. He flied out, and Perkins threw a 1-2-3 ninth to complete three shutout innings for the Twins bullpen.
As for his relief corps, Ausmus said, "I still have complete faith in the back half of the bullpen. You're not going win every game when you have a lead late, but I think we're going to win the vast majority of them with the way guys are throwing now."
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