Twins-Tigers Preview 

Twins-Tigers Preview

The Detroit Tigers are in unfamiliar territory - tied for first-place in the AL Central Division.

They'll try to move in sole possession of the division lead when they continue their three-game series with the Minnesota Twins Wednesday at Comerica Park.

The Tigers (25-13) used a five-run third inning to beat Minnesota 7-4 in the series-opener Tuesday and improve to 4-0 against the Twins (17-22) at home this season, outscoring them 40-5 in that span.

Detroit's fifth straight win, coupled with the Chicago White Sox' 10-7 loss to Tampa Bay, moved the Tigers into a tie atop the AL Central.

Chicago and Tampa Bay continue their series on Wednesday.

The Tigers have not been in first place this late in the season since 1993, which was also the last year they had a winning record.

''A lot of us were on that team that lost 119 games in 2003, and we fought hard to keep it to that many,'' said third baseman Brandon Inge, who was 1-for-4 in the win. ''We used to dream about getting to .500, and now we're looking at first place. This is an incredible turnaround.''

The Tigers will try to match their season-high six-game winning streak from April 28-May 3. First baseman Chris Shelton, who leads the Tigers with a .311 batting average, had a three-run RBI double in the win and is hitting .438 (7-for-16) over the last four games.

Starter Nate Robertson allowed three runs and seven hits over five innings for the win and Todd Jones pitched a scoreless ninth for his 10th save.

Justin Verlander (4-3, 3.77) will take the ball for Detroit on Wednesday looking for his fourth win in five starts. The rookie right-hander allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings on May 10 in a 6-3 win over Baltimore.

He is 1-1 with a 4.15 ERA against Minnesota, including on April 29 when he scattered six hits over seven innings in an 18-1 win over the Twins.

Johan Santana (4-3, 3.38) tries to win his fifth consecutive start when he takes the mound for Minnesota. The Twins' ace has been dominant in his last four starts, striking out 40 batters and walking just three while going at least seven innings in each of those outings.

The AL Cy Young Award winner allowed one run and five hits and recorded 10 strikeouts and one walk in a 10-1 win over the White Sox on Friday.

''He was as good as you can do it,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ''He kept them off balance and kept attacking them.''

Santana kept the Tigers off balance in a 4-2 win on May 7, striking out 11 and carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning. He is 8-1 in 17 appearances versus Detroit with a 2.54 ERA, including a 2-0 record with a 1.86 ERA at Comerica Park.

The Twins have dropped three in a row and are just 5-14 on the road this season.

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