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Tigers Look To Keep Hot Streak Going With Twins Coming To Town

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(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers have been on a roll lately and look to move closer to capturing an American League Central title when they begin a three-game series tonight versus the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park.

Detroit is 8 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago White Sox in the division and has won six straight and 16 of its last 20 contests. It is coming off consecutive sweeps of the White Sox and Indians, and recorded an 8-6 triumph over the Indians on Wednesday from Progressive Field.

Tigers ace Justin Verlander improved to 22-5 on the season even though he was reached for four runs and three hits, including two homers, in six innings. Jose Valverde later came on to post his 42nd save. Victor Martinez bailed Verlander out with a grand slam.

Verlander became the first Tigers pitcher to win 22 games since Joe Coleman went 23-15 in 1973. Valverde tied the club record, set by Todd Jones in 2000, for saves in a season.

"Overall I would say it was a decent job considering the stuff I had," Verlander said. "Once again our team came through in a huge way. Victor obviously had the huge hit."

Brad Penny gets the call for the Tigers tonight and he's 9-10 with a 5.13 ERA in 27 starts this season. He did not figure into the decision of a 9-8 win over the White Sox on Saturday, as he yielded eight runs -- four earned -- and 10 hits in five innings. Penny, who is only 2-4 in his last six decisions, lost to Minnesota on Aug. 28 at Target Field and is 2-2 with a 6.31 ERA in seven career starts against the Twins.

Penny, a right-hander, sports a 4-4 mark in 15 home starts this season.

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has reached base in a career-best 34 straight games, hitting .391 in that time.

Minnesota ended a five-game losing streak with Wednesday's 5-4 win over the White Sox in the finale of a four-game set in the Twin Cities.

Carl Pavano lasted 5 1/3 innings and allowed 10 hits, but held Chicago to three runs -- one earned -- for the win. Joe Nathan struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning for his 13th save.

Danny Valencia and Chris Parmelee both finished with two RBI for the Twins.

"I had two strikes on me, so I was just looking for something up and over the plate," Parmelee said of his two-run double in the third inning. "I just got a good pitch, took a good swing on it and a good thing happened."

The White Sox were aiming for their first four-game sweep against Minnesota since 2008.

Set to toe the rubber for Minnesota tonight will be Kevin Slowey, who is 0-4 with a 5.31 ERA in 10 games (4 starts) this season. Slowey missed a significant amount of time with an abdominal strain and last pitched in Sunday's 4-1 loss at Anaheim, where he tossed seven solid innings of two-run ball with four K's and no walks.

Slowey, a right-hander, has dominated Detroit in his career, going 5-0 with a 4.93 ERA in eight games (7 starts). He is 0-2 in seven games (2 starts) away from Target Field this season.

Detroit is 11-4 against Minnesota this season.