Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Phil Hughes turned in his best outing of the season and Trevor Plouffe delivered a key two-run single in the Minnesota Twins' 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Target Field.
Hughes (2-1), who entered the matchup with a 6.43 ERA through his first four starts as a Twin, held the Tigers to two runs -- one earned -- and just four hits over a solid seven frames. The right-hander added six strikeouts without a walk.
"He felt great, used of all his pitches, he didn't overthrow the ball," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of Hughes. "He went right at them, and we like that. He moved the ball in and out, which you have to do on these guys."
He was aided by a four-run fifth inning that Plouffe capped with his tie- breaking single and saw Jose Ortega (0-1), pressed into duty when Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez was forced to leave after 2 2/3 innings with a finger blister, walk three Minnesota batters to set up the bases-loaded hit.
Sanchez had been sailing prior to the injury, issuing just a pair of walks while retiring eight of the 10 hitters he faced to maintain a 2-0 lead he was handed when taking the mound in the bottom of the first inning.
Ortega kept Minnesota off the board through the fourth, but walked two to begin the Twins' half of the fifth and soon paid for his wildness.
Eduardo Escobar then was safe on a sacrifice attempt as Tigers catcher Bryan Holaday threw wildly to first, enabling Sam Fuld to score on the miscue. Ortega followed by walking Brian Dozier and Phil Coke came on to do the same to Joe Mauer, forcing in another run right before Plouffe snapped the tie with a sharp single to center that brought in both Escobar and Dozier.
"It's a tough spot for our entire bullpen," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said afterward. "We were a little bit strapped going into today as it was and then Sanchez's injury strapped us even more."
While Sanchez was sharp, Hughes' day started off shakily, as he was reached for a one-out single by Torii Hunter in the top of the first and Miguel Cabrera followed with a long double to right center to knock his teammate in. Cabrera wound up on third as Fuld's throw in missed the cutoff man, then crossed the plate on Victor Martinez's sac fly for a quick 2-0 Detroit lead.
Hughes set down 16 straight after Cabrera's hit, however, and permitted just two hits total over the remainder of his stint.
"I take a lot of pride in throwing a lot of strikes and staying ahead in counts," Hughes said. "That was the case again today and I was able to make some decent pitches to get some outs."
Twins closer Glen Perkins took over in the ninth with a 5-2 advantage, as Josmil Pinto extended Minnesota's margin with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth. He served up a leadoff home run to Martinez and a ground-rule double to Austin Jackson that brought the tying run to the plate, but regrouped to record three straight outs and nail down his sixth save of the year.