Series: Game 3 of 3

Minnesota won 2-1

Game 1: Tuesday, April 20
Game 2: Wednesday, April 21
Game 3: Thursday, April 22

Tigers 3

(9-7, 6-4 away)

Twins 4

(10-5, 7-2 home)

    1:10 PM ET, April 22, 2004

    Mall of America Field, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

    123456789 R H E
    DET 001101000 3 10 0
    MIN 00031000 - 4 8 1

    W: J. Santana (1-0)

    L: M. Maroth (2-1)

    S: J. Nathan (4)

    Ford helps with three-run homer

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins used a strong intradivision record to win the last two AL Central titles, and there was nobody they beat more often than the Detroit Tigers.

    Despite dropping two of three to the Twins this week, the Tigers are 9-7 overall and won't be a sure victory anymore.

    Fill-in Lew Ford kept up his strong hitting with a three-run homer, Johan Santana picked up his first victory and the Twins edged the Tigers 4-3 on Thursday afternoon.

    "That's what we're after -- trying to win series," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said.

    Brandon Inge went 2-for-2 with a double, two walks and a homer for the Tigers, who lost 119 games last year.

    Minnesota is 47-15 against Detroit since 2001, but the teams have split six games this month.

    "It's going to be a close race," Inge said. "I think that they're only going to get better."

    The Twins feel the same way about the Tigers.

    By adding Carlos Guillen, Ivan Rodriguez, Rondell White and Fernando Vina, Detroit has significantly upgraded its lineup.

    Santana (1-0) was impressed. He gave up three runs, three walks and seven hits while striking out six in his best outing this year. He loaded the bases in the second, but got out of the jam by striking out Omar Infante to end the inning.

    "They give you a good challenge," said Santana, who put the first two runners on in three of his six innings. "They're going to make you throw a lot of pitches. It's a different team than last year. You've got to give them some credit."

    Ford got two hits and now has a team-high 15 RBI since his call-up on April 10 after Torii Hunter hurt his hamstring. Ford's homer gave the Twins a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

    Ford has hit in nine of 11 games this year and extended his hitting streak to a career-best eight games. The speedy outfielder is batting .450 (18-for-40) with three homers and 10 runs scored.

    "I'm going to put him on the list already as a Tiger-killer," Detroit manager Alan Trammell said.

    "This feels great," Ford said.

    Tigers starter Mike Maroth (2-1) went seven innings, allowing eight hits, four runs and two walks. He struck out three.

    Maroth, who last year became the first AL pitcher to lose at least 20 games since 1980, took his first loss of the season.

    "I think we should've won the game," said Maroth, who received little run support last season. "That's the difference between this year's offensive team and last year."

    The Twins' bullpen did its job. Juan Rincon and J.C. Romero each threw a scoreless inning, and Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his fourth save.

    The Tigers got their first run on a sacrifice fly by White in the third, but Santana worked his way out of trouble after putting the first two runners on.

    Inge's double scored Carlos Pena in the fourth inning to put Detroit up 2-0, but Minnesota quickly erased the lead in the bottom half.

    Doug Mientkiewicz led off with a single, Jose Offerman walked and Ford crushed a 2-2 pitch into the left-field seats.

    Mientkiewicz grounded into a bases-loaded double play with nobody out in the fifth to score Cristian Guzman and make it 4-2.

    Inge homered in the sixth to pull the Tigers back within one. ^Notes:@ Twins LF Shannon Stewart was taken out after the sixth inning with a cramp in his right hamstring and replaced by Michael Ryan. Stewart said he was fine, and he'll be evaluated on Friday. ... White hit in all seven games during the Tigers' road trip. ... The last time Detroit won a series at the Metrodome was Sept. 1999. ... Minnesota is 8-0 when leading after seven innings.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press