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Tigers Head To Minnesota To Take On Twins

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(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers will try to pad their lead atop the American League Central even further this weekend when they begin a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

The Tigers have dominated the Twins this season, going 9-3 against them, including wins in five of the six matchups in Minnesota.

Detroit has been beating everyone lately and enters this series having won six of its last seven games after taking two of three from the Tampa Bay Rays, culminating with a 2-0 win on Thursday.

Doug Fister tossed seven scoreless innings in that one, while Austin Jackson homered and knocked in a pair of runs for the Tigers, who hold a 6 1/2-game edge on Cleveland in the division.

"Fister did just what the doctor ordered for us. He was tremendous," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Hoping for a similar result tonight the Tigers will rely on right-hander Rick Porcello, who is winless in his last four starts and is coming off a horrible performance his last time out. Porcello couldn't get out of the fourth inning on Sunday against the Indians, as he allowed five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. He escaped without a decision, though, in his team's 8-7 win.

Over his last 13 1/3 innings Porcello has pitched to an 11.48 ERA and is 11-8 on the year to go along with a 5.17 ERA.

Porcello lost to the Twins two starts ago, but had been a perfect 3-0 against them this year prior to that start. He is 5-4 lifetime against them with a 3.00 ERA.

One bat Porcello won't have to deal with tonight will be that of Twins slugger Jim Thome, who was dealt to Cleveland on Thursday for a player to be named later. Thome, of course, spent the first 12 years of his career with the Indians, swatting a team-record 334 of his 601 home runs for them.

The Twins enter tonight's matchup riding a five-game losing streak after being swept in a four-game set by the Baltimore Orioles, including a 4-1 setback in Thursday's finale.

Justin Morneau drove in the lone run for the Twins, who have dropped seven of their last eight.

"It's tough and the frustration level is at an all-time high right now," said Morneau. "With losing, seeing guys get hurt, it's just tough to go out there. But, we have no choice, we have to go out there and give it our best effort cause the fans deserve our best effort."

To make matters worse Minnesota starter Francisco Liriano exited the game after just two innings with a left posterior shoulder strain. He gave up one run on two hits with three walks before departing and was placed on the 15-day disabled list following the contest.

Anthony Swarzak (3-4), who had actually been slated to start on Friday, took the loss for giving up five runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings of relief.

So instead of Swarzak the Twins will hand the ball to lefty Scott Diamond, who will be making the second start of his big league career. Diamond lost his debut to Cleveland back on July 18, and was tagged for four runs (three earned) and seven hits in 6 1/3 frames.