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Gardenhire, Twins slip up in front of Leyland, lose to Tigers 9-3

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DETROIT - Ron Gardenhire has never made any secret of his respect for Jim Leyland.

The Minnesota manager just wishes his team hadn't been quite so friendly to their former rival Saturday.

On the day the Tigers honoured their former manager in a pregame ceremony, the Twins made a crucial error that turned a two-run inning into a six-run meltdown as Detroit picked up an easy 9-3 victory.

"It was great to see Jim and see the Tigers honour him — he's a good friend and a great manager," Gardenhire said. "It has been good to know him and to learn from him."

Unfortunately for Gardenhire, the Tigers players learned even more. Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez hit three-run homers, which was more than enough for the defending Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer.

"We had a lot of great memories with Jim, so we wanted to give him one more," Cabrera said. "We wanted that for him, because of everything he did for us."

Cabrera connected for his fifth homer, tagging Kyle Gibson (3-3), while Martinez hit his eighth of the season and fourth in the last six games.

Scherzer (5-1) wasn't sharp yet still won, giving up three runs on five hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out six — his team-record streak of fanning at least seven in seven starts to begin a season ended.

"I couldn't find my release point today, but I was able to get through it," he said. "I gave up one big shot, but the rest of the time, I was able to make enough pitches to get the outs I needed and get out of any jams."

After Leyland threw out the first pitch, another of his favourite players made an immediate impact.

Don Kelly, a utilityman who owes his major league career to Leyland's patience and trust, reached over the left-field fence in the first inning to steal a homer from Kurt Suzuki.

Kelly then scored the game's first run as the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the second on RBI singles by Alex Avila and Andrew Romine. Detroit added another run when second baseman Brian Dozier dropped shortstop Danny Santana's flip, then threw wildly to the plate as Avila scored.

"Danny should have just thrown to first there, but he got himself into trouble by trying to get the out at second," Gardenhire said. "You can't make those kind of mistakes against that team."

The error had major consequences, as Cabrera followed with his homer for a 6-0 lead.

"That was a huge mistake by the Twins, and we all knew it as soon as we saw the error," Scherzer said. "If you let us extend an inning and get Miggy to the plate, he's going to make you pay for it. That's exactly what he did."

The Twins closed the deficit on Dozier's long, three-run shot in the third, but weren't able to do anything else against Scherzer.

Anthony Swarzak relieved Gibson and pitched four shutout innings, but the damage had already been done.

"I just got behind too many guys, and then you have to come in over the plate," Gibson said. "You can't do that against a team like Detroit. They are a pretty good team when you have to throw the ball down the middle."

Martinez broke open the game with a three-run homer off Michael Tonkin in the seventh. Martinez, who is hitting .328 at the age of 35, is on pace to easily surpass his career high of 25.

NOTES: A fan behind the Twins dugout got an ovation after catching a foul ball with his left hand while cradling his daughter in his right arm. ... Scherzer's eight games with at least six strikeouts is the second-longest streak to start a season in franchise history, trailing his own 19-game run last year.

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