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Twins to finish above .500 for fifth straight year

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers' punchless offense and
sloppiness in the field may end up costing manager Alan Trammell
his job.

Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau each had two hits and an RBI
to support rookie Scott Baker, and the Minnesota Twins took
advantage of a wild pitch on Jacque Jones' strikeout to defeat the
Tigers 3-0 Saturday night.

Baker (3-3) scattered seven hits in six innings and did not walk
a batter for the Twins (82-79), assured of finishing above .500 for
the fifth straight season. Matt Guerrier pitched two innings of
perfect relief and Joe Nathan finished for his 42nd save in 47
chances.

"It gives us those 82 wins, which is what everyone was looking
for," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "It's not enough for us,
but it's nice for the organization."

Jason Johnson (8-13) gave up all three runs and six hits in six
innings as Detroit lost its fourth straight. Trammell expects to
meet with ownership on Monday to find out if he will be back for
the final year of his contract.

Detroit (71-90) has one more chance this season to equal last
season's win total, which comes as a disappointment after the
Tigers added big names like Magglio Ordonez and Placido Polanco.

But injuries to virtually every one of their stars, mediocre
pitching and a lack of discipline at the plate have made the Tigers
underachievers, putting Trammell's job in jeopardy.

"Monday will be a big day," Trammell said. "But I'm fine. I'm
not worried about it. I'll deal with it."

Johnson allowed two hits in the first five innings, then gave up
a leadoff single to Jason Bartlett in the sixth and intentionally
walked Joe Mauer with two outs. Jones struck out, but the ball got
past catcher Ivan Rodriguez for a wild pitch, and Jones reached to
load the bases. Cuddyer followed with a high chopper to third and
beat Brandon Inge's throw as Bartlett scored for a 1-0 lead.

"I let it affect me a lot, because I threw it exactly where I
wanted to throw it and it got under the legs of Pudge," Johnson
said of the wild pitch. "It was unfortunate what happened after
that. I thought it still could've been 0-0, so I'm definitely
unhappy with the outcome of that pitch."

Morneau followed with an RBI single, and Jason Tyner drove in
Jones with another infield single.

Johnson's wild pitch could have been scored a passed ball, as it
squirted underneath the normally sure-handed Rodriguez's glove and
between his legs.

"In the sixth, not being able to block the ball, that was
huge," Trammell said. "We might still be playing. ... We didn't
stop them after that, but we didn't score any runs either, so it's
a moot point."

Baker gave up four hits in the first two innings, but the Tigers
bungled those opportunities. They had runners at the corners in the
first with two outs, but Carlos Pena flied out.

"First and third with one out, we needed to put that ball in
play and we didn't," Trammell said. "Not being able to get that
hit and run down there kills us. He got the breaking ball, then he
swung through it."

In the second, Craig Monroe hit a one-out double and advanced to
third on a single by Inge. But Baker struck out Omar Infante
looking and picked Inge off first base.

"Freaky things happen, and it seems like it's been happening to
us lately," Johnson said.

It was the second strong outing in a row for a Twins rookie
starter, following Francisco Liriano's eight strikeouts in seven
innings of Friday night's 7-3 victory.

"It's really good for those young men to finish the season
strong," Gardenhire said. "It's a nice way to be going into the
offseason for them and for us."

Baker showed a little toughness in the fifth, when Inge's
comebacker hit him in the right hip. But the rookie shook it off
and finished out an impressive outing.

"It just hit me in a good spot," Baker said. "I wouldn't say
I had my best stuff, but I made adjustments, kept the ball down and
got the job done."

Game notes
Before the game, the Twins honored Hall of Famer and former
Twin Rod Carew on his 60th birthday. The crowd sang "Happy
Birthday." ... The Twins passed the 2 million mark for attendance
for the first time since 1993. ... Rodriguez played for the first
time since Monday after missing time with a strained calf. ... Inge
had a rough day on the bases. In addition to being picked off, he
was caught trying to steal second in the fifth.