Nathan gets 15th save

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Joe Mauer made his first major league home
run a memorable one.

Mauer hit a tiebreaking, three-run shot with two outs in the
eighth inning to help the Minnesota Twins beat the Detroit Tigers
6-5 Sunday.

The rookie catcher connected on a 3-1 pitch from Esteban Yan
(0-2), capping a two-out rally and giving the slumping Twins a 6-3
lead. Minnesota held on in the ninth for its first series victory
after four straight defeats.

"I don't know what it is about superstars, but they do those
things," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Mauer, from St. Paul, was the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft. He
injured his knee in the second game of the season and returned from
surgery Wednesday. He was 0-for-8 in three games until his home run

With two outs in the eighth, Yan entered a tie game and gave up
a double to Torii Hunter. Yan then hit Matthew LeCroy with a pitch
before hanging a split-finger fastball that Mauer hit 408 feet to
right field for his first career RBI.

"Mauer got ahead in the count and that was the difference,"
Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "Falling behind 3-1 is a
hitter's pitch, and instead of a base hit he got a three-run

J.C. Romero (3-1) won despite giving up a tying single to
pinch-hitter Brandon Inge in the eighth, and Joe Nathan pitched the
ninth for his 15th save in 16 chances.

Nathan allowed a leadoff homer to Jason Smith and an RBI single
by Ivan Rodriguez, snapping his 21-inning scoreless streak. But the
reliever retired Rondell White on a long fly and struck out Bobby
Higginson to end it.

"I thought I had it, but that's the name of the game --
inches," White said. "We battled and fell short today."

Nathan fell behind Higginson 3-0 with the potential tying run at
first base, but fought back to get the strikeout on a 3-2 slider.

"It was still a situation where I was trying to make my pitch
and not give in to him, because he's got some pop," Nathan said.

"When I worked the count to two strikes, he'd seen five
straight fastballs and was starting to get his timing down. I made
up my mind before I even got on the rubber that I was going to
throw him a slider, and fortunately it worked out for us."

Tigers starter Nate Robertson blanked the Twins for five
innings, running Minnesota's scoreless drought to 14 innings, its
longest of the season. But after Cristian Guzman led off the sixth
with a single, Lew Ford hit an 0-1 pitch into the left-field seats
for his seventh homer.

Two outs later, LeCroy jumped on a low fastball and drove it to
left-center for his fourth homer and a 3-2 Twins lead.

Minnesota starter Carlos Silva gave up three runs and nine hits
in 7 2-3 innings. He lost his chance to earn the win when Inge
singled on Romero's first pitch, driving in Higginson to tie it.

"The disappointing part of the day for me was taking (Silva)
out of the game and he doesn't get a win," Gardenhire said. "He
pitched his tail off. He makes pitches when he has to."

The Tigers hit six doubles off Silva and had a runner in scoring
position in every inning but the seventh.

Detroit scored first on Rodriguez's RBI double with two outs in
the third inning, then doubled its lead in the fifth with the help
of Minnesota's defense.

Smith led off the inning with a double, and Alex Sanchez
followed with a bunt single. Third baseman Corey Koskie's throw hit
Sanchez in the arm, and Smith scored on the error.

Robertson gave up three runs on seven hits, walked none and
struck out five in seven innings.

Game notes
LeCroy left after being hit on the right wrist by Yan's
pitch in the eighth inning, but X-rays were negative and he said
after the game that he'd be fine. ... Twins 1B Doug Mientkiewicz
batted leadoff for the first time in his six-year career. ...
Left-handed hitters were batting only .140 against Robertson going
into the game. The Twins had four lefties in the starting lineup;
they were a combined 1-for-13 against Robertson, with the only hit
going to Mientkiewicz on a questionable scoring decision in the
seventh. ... Ford hit third for the first time in his career. ...
Tigers OF Dmitri Young missed his second straight game with a
strained calf.