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First Place Once Again On The Line As Tigers, Twins Wrap Up Series

(Sports Network) - Denard Span's legs got a major workout in last night's win for the Minnesota Twins. He'll make sure to stretch before this afternoon's rubber match of a three-game series versus the Detroit Tigers at Target Field.

Span pushed his career batting average to .403 against the Tigers and tied a major league record with three triples in Tuesday's 11-4 rout. He finished 4- for-4 with five RBI and a pair of runs scored for the Twins, who took back first place in the American League Central after losing Monday's series opener. Span has nine hits and eight RBI during his five-game hitting streak.

"I needed a game like this," Span said on the team's site. "I hadn't had a game like this all year. Hopefully this will get me going. I've been kind of streaky all year and everybody knows what I've been doing on the road but playing so well here. It's always good to beat up on Detroit."

Span is the first player to hit three triples in a game since Rafael Furcal of the Atlanta Braves back on April 21, 2002. Michael Cuddyer drove in two runs and Jim Thome went deep in a winning effort, helping the Twins to their second win in eight tries and a half-game lead over Detroit. Thome is one homer shy of tying Minnesota icon Harmon Killebrew for 10th on the all-time list.

Nick Blackburn got the win, his seventh of the season, last night and gave up four runs over seven innings. The Twins hope Kevin Slowey can follow suit when he takes the mound in Wednesday's series finale. Slowey is 0-2 in his last three starts and was beaten by the New York Mets the previous time out on Friday at Citi Field. He yielded five runs in six frames to fall to 7-5 in 15 starts to go along with a 4.79 earned run average.

Slowey, who was 3-0 in five outings before his current skid, hopes to stay unbeaten in his career against Detroit. He beat the Tigers on May 5, allowing three runs in 5 2/3 frames of a 5-4 win, to improve to 4-0 in six lifetime starts. The right-hander is 4-3 with a 3.80 ERA at Target Field this season.

The Tigers had a modest two-game winning streak stopped last night and lost for the fifth time in eight tries. Armando Galarraga wasn't himself on the hill and the Tigers' starter permitted six runs and seven hits in four innings to absorb the loss. Fu-Te Ni did no better in relief, allowing four runs in only two-thirds of an inning.

"We didn't pitch very well," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "If you're not hitting your spots and getting ahead in the count, it's difficult."

Johnny Damon had two hits and two RBI, while Miguel Cabrera finished 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for Detroit, which won Monday's series opener by a 7-5 score and fell to 3-5 on a nine-game road trip. Cabrera entered last night's tilt batting .361 with 12 homers and 40 RBI on the road.

Brennan Boesch was hitting .344 with 17 runs, eight homers and 23 RBI this month before going 1-for-4 in defeat. Detroit slugger Magglio Ordonez was back in the lineup after missing two games with a side injury, but ended 0-for-3 at the plate.

Hoping to get the Tigers a series win Wednesday will be rookie left-hander Andy Oliver. Oliver, originally drafted by the Twins in 2006, made his major league debut in a 3-1 loss at Atlanta on Friday. He allowed two runs on five hits in six innings, struck out four and walked one.

Oliver was 6-4 with a 3.61 ERA in 14 starts for Double-A Erie.

Minnesota has won five of eight matchups with Detroit this season and swept a three-game series at Target Field from May 3-5.