DETROIT (AP) - Moral victories won't put the Detroit Tigers in the playoffs, but this was one loss with a clear silver lining.
Anibal Sanchez pitched effectively into the seventh inning before Minnesota finally broke through, and the Twins went on to beat the Tigers 6-2 on Tuesday night. Sanchez struck out 10 in only his second quality start of the season.
"He did an outstanding job — that's probably as good an outing as he's had this season," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He did give up three runs, but two of those were after he was out of the game. He had really good fastball command, and that's big for him."
Tommy Milone held Detroit scoreless until the ninth, and the Twins scored five runs in the seventh.
Brian Dozier hit a two-run homer, Eduardo Nunez had three RBIs and Milone (3-2) breezed through the Detroit lineup until the ninth, when the Tigers finally chased him from the game. Down 6-0 at the start of the inning, Detroit scored twice and actually had the tying run at the plate with one out when James McCann came up with the bases loaded against Brandon Kintzler.
McCann and Jose Iglesias both struck out to end it.
Milone allowed two runs and four hits in 8 1/3 innings. The Tigers had only one hit before the ninth.
This was Milone's longest outing since July 5, 2013, when he also went 8 1/3 innings for Oakland against Kansas City.
Sanchez (5-11) allowed three runs in six-plus innings, an encouraging sign for Detroit after he entered the game with a 6.75 ERA. Sanchez allowed seven hits and two walks. His line would have been even better, but the two runners on base when he was pulled in the seventh both came around to score.
Sanchez received a warm ovation when he left the game, and he raised his glove to acknowledge the fans.
"They deserve more than I've given them this year," he said. "Hopefully, I can keep throwing the ball the way I did today, and we can get some wins."
Nunez opened the scoring in the third with a sacrifice fly, and Sanchez and Milone were locked in an impressive duel until the Detroit right-hander allowed a walk and a single to start the seventh. Bruce Rondon came on in relief, and after a sacrifice bunt, Nunez poked a two-run single to center.
Nunez stole second and scored on Joe Mauer's two-out single. Dozier followed with his 16th homer of the season to make it 6-0.
Milone allowed consecutive singles to Cameron Maybin, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to start the bottom of the ninth. He came out of the game after a sacrifice fly by Nick Castellanos made it 6-2.
Kintzler came on and allowed a single by Justin Upton and an infield single by Mike Aviles before retiring McCann and Iglesias.
"To have a good night and have it come, the tying run up to the plate there, it gets your attention pretty fast," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "But he made some really quality pitches those last two hitters."
Tigers: Ausmus remained noncommittal about a timetable for LHP Daniel Norris (right oblique strain) to return. Norris made a rehab start Monday night, but there may not be any rush to bring him back after Sanchez's solid outing.
Twins: RHP Ervin Santana (3-8) starts Wednesday in the finale of this three-game series. He has a 2.18 ERA in his last five starts.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander (9-6) takes the mound, trying for his sixth win in seven decisions.