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Tigers Square Off Against Twins In Second Game Of Series

(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers continue to lead the American League Central Division and will attempt to increase their advantage over the Minnesota Twins this afternoon at Comerica Park.

Nick Blackburn will be on the bump for Minnesota today with hopes of improving his 7-6 overall record and 6.00 ERA. Blackburn has allowed 127 hits in 93 innings, and has only struck out 33 batters. Against Tampa Bay on Sunday, he permitted four earned runs on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings en route to defeat.

The Minnesota righty is 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA this season against Detroit, however, an obvious reason for confidence heading into today's tilt. Blackburn is 4-3 lifetime versus the Tigers.

Detroit will hand the ball to Jeremy Bonderman. Having yet to go the distance through 16 starts, Bonderman is 4-6 with a 4.81 ERA. He has struggled mightily in his last three outings, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits in 16 1/3 innings. On Monday, the righty only lasted five innings against Seattle and gave up seven earned runs.

Bonderman is 1-0 this season against Minnesota, but he is just 4-6 with a 5.40 ERA lifetime versus the Twins.

On Friday, Magglio Ordonez had three hits and drove in three runs in Detroit's 7-3 victory in the opener of this crucial three-game intradivision set.

Carlos Guillen had two hits and drove in two runs, while Miguel Cabrera singled to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 17 games for Detroit, which maintained its hold on the top spot in the AL Central. The Tigers lead second-place Chicago by a half-game, with the Twins now three off the pace in third.

Justin Verlander (11-5) made it through 5 1/3 innings to grab the win after being charged with a pair of runs on eight hits. The righty walked two and struck out seven for the Tigers, who have won four straight and six of seven.

Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano (6-7) was banged up to the tune of seven runs allowed on six hits, and walked two and hit a pair of batters over just 1 2/3 innings. It was his shortest effort of the year, and the Twins fell for a third consecutive game and for a fifth time in six tries.

"We came out and got some runs off a real good pitcher, it's not easy to do off [Liriano] -- he's really good," said Tigers' skipper Jim Leyland. "Verlander was sluggish and we had to use more pitchers than I would have liked to use in a game where we got that many runs to start. We didn't add on when we had a couple chances to do so."

Twins' first baseman Justin Morneau was not available for Friday's game, as he continues to suffer from concussion-like symptoms after getting accidentally kneed in the head by Toronto's John McDonald on Wednesday. Manager Ron Gardenhire said if Morneau does not play over the weekend, it is likely that he would not travel to Anaheim for the All-Star Game on Tuesday.

Minnesota has won six of its 10 matchups with the Tigers this season despite Friday's defeat.