Alex Avila went 2-for-3 and scored three times to help the Tigers pick up starter Brad Penny and win their seventh straight game, an 8-4 win over Minnesota.
Penny (10-10) labored in the first inning by allowing five straight batters to reach base, including a two-run triple to Danny Valencia to put the Tigers in an early 4-0 hole. Penny lasted until the fifth inning despite the tense frame, and became the fourth Tigers starter to get 10 wins on the season.
The win for Penny was mostly due to the Tigers offense, which has been a well-oiled machine lately.
Avila started things off in the second when he drilled a three-run shot to left to cut the lead to 4-3 off Kevin Slowey. After a run-scoring triple by Wilson Betemit tied the game in the fourth, Ramon Santiago hit a two-run homer that gave Detroit the lead for good.
Delmon Young also hit a solo home run in the fifth and Brandon Inge hit hit a sacrifice fly to score Avila again in the eighth.
Daniel Schlereth, Ryan Perry and Joaquin Benoit pitched scoreless sixth, seventh and eighth innings, while Jose Valverde pitched a 1-2-3 ninth.
The Tigers bats have been hot for the entire seven-game winning streak that started last Friday with Chicago. They’ve scored at least eight runs in seven of their last eight games (which includes an 11-8 loss to Kansas City on Sept. 1) and have pounded 65 runs during the streak.
Detroit (82-62) moved 20 games over .500 for the first time this season and increased their AL Central lead over Chicago to 9 1/2 games, who lost Friday night to Cleveland. Cleveland remained 10 games back.
The Tigers’ magic number (number of combined wins by Detroit and losses by the second place team to clinch the division) dropped to 10. Here’s the standings after tonight: