Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joe Nathan walks to the dugout after being relieved against the Minnesota Twins in ninth inning. ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — Kyle Gibson threw seven innings and Eduardo Escobar hit a solo homer in the third and drew a bases-loaded walk in the ninth, lifting the Minnesota Twins to a 2-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Detroit left seven on base against Gibson. The right-hander escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the fifth inning by getting Miguel Cabrera to ground into a double play.
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Gibson (6-5) allowed five hits and two walks while striking out three. He threw seven scoreless innings for a second straight start and held an opponent without a run for the third time in four outings.
Casey Fien pitched a perfect eighth and Glen Perkins gave up one hit in the ninth, closing the game for his 17th save in 19 chances.
Drew Smyly (3-4) gave up one run, four hits and three walks over six innings.
Al Alburquerque and Joba Chamberlain each threw a scoreless inning of relief.
Against former Twin Joe Nathan Minnesota added to its lead in the ninth.
Josh Willingham reached on a throwing error by shortstop Eugenio Suarez to lead off the ninth. Pinch-runner Sam Fuld advanced on a wild pitch and got to third on a groundout. Nathan later gave up a two-out walk to Trevor Plouffe and hit Eduardo Nunez to load the bases. Escobar walked to make it 2-0, chasing Nathan, who was booed as he walked to the dugout. Phil Coke entered and struck out Danny Santana to keep the Tigers within two runs.
Minnesota has won three straight for the first time in nearly a month.
The Twins, who started the day in last place, have pulled within three games of the AL Central-leading Tigers in the tightly contested division. Since a 27-12 start, Detroit has lost 17 of 24 games and it has struggled even more at home lately, losing 11 of 15 at Comerica Park.
NOTES: Tigers RHP Luke Putkonen, who is out indefinitely, had elbow surgery Thursday and will be evaluated again in 6 to 8 weeks. ... Twins 2B Brian Dozier, who has played a team-high 64 games, was not in the lineup because of a back injury and might sit out of Saturday's game. ... Tigers OF Andy Dirks, who had back surgery in March, is expected to begin a rehab assignment in about a week if he does not have any setbacks. ... Minnesota put OF Aaron Hicks on the 15-day DL with a right shoulder strain, reinstated Fuld from his rehab assignment and recalled C Eric Fryer.