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Tigers must win 17 of last 21 to do same

DETROIT (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins are playing with confidence.

"We're playing pretty good baseball right now. I don't care if
we are playing Detroit or who we are playing, it's tough to beat
us," Matthew LeCroy said after Sunday's 8-5 win over the Tigers.

Terry Tiffee, Torii Hunter and Cristian Guzman homered for the
Twins, who are 11-7 against Detroit this year and 55-19 since 2001.
The Twins have won five straight over the Tigers going into
Monday's series finale.

"We're definitely sick of those guys," Detroit's Carlos Pena
said. "We've been playing good baseball against them, but it never
seems to be enough. They always get the key hits and they get the
big outs."

Minnesota (82-60) won its fifth straight overall to improve to a
season-best 22 games over .500 and ensure its fourth straight
winning season.

"If we keep winning games, no one can catch us," Minnesota
manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Detroit (64-77) dropped a season-low 13 games under .500 and
needs 17 wins in its last 21 games to avoid an 11th straight losing
season.

"We've got some injuries right now, and we were a little down
even before that," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "Now we are
playing a team that is heading to the postseason. That's not a
great matchup."

Terry Mulholland (5-8) allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3
innings, then turned it over to his bullpen.

"I'm really happy to see us playing this kind of baseball,"
Mulholland said. "We're getting timely hitting and timely defense,
and everyone that's taking the ball on the mound seems to be doing
the job."

J.C. Romero got two outs in the ninth before pinch-hitter Ivan
Rodriguez singled in a run to end Romero's team-record scoreless
streak at 36 2/3 innings, since he allowed a run June 11 against
Philadelphia.

"I wasn't really thinking about it," Romero said. "I think
[the media] was making a bigger deal out of it than I was. The
streak is over now, but I have to keep pitching."

Joe Nathan finished for his 42nd save in 45 chances, striking
out Brandon Inge with runners on second and third.

Nate Robertson (12-9), attempting to become the first Tigers
left-hander to win 13 games since Justin Thompson had 15 victories
in 1997, gave up six runs and a season-high 10 hits in four
innings.

"Nate was not sharp," Trammell said. "I'm sure he's a little
fatigued at this point of the season, but that's part of playing
this game."

Minnesota went ahead on LeCroy's RBI double in the first, then
added four runs in the third. Tiffee hit his second career homer, a
two-run drive, Michael Cuddyer hit an RBI double and Pat Borders
had a run-scoring single.

Jason Smith's RBI single in the bottom half made it 5-1, but
Hunter and Guzman hit solo homers in the sixth. Guzman has homered
in consecutive games after going 106 at-bats without any.

Marcus Thames hit a three-run homer in the bottom half. Augie
Ojeda hit an RBI single in the ninth off John Ennis.

Game notes
Lew Ford walked four times, one short of the Twins record.
... The Tigers called up three players from Double-A Erie, which
was eliminated from the playoffs on Saturday. RHP Roberto Novoa and
INF Ryan Raburn were recalled and Detroit purchased the contract of
OF Curtis Granderson. Novoa pitched nine times for Detroit earlier
in the year, and threw a scoreless inning Sunday. Raburn struck out
as a pinch-hitter in his major-league debut. ... Tigers SS Carlos
Guillen, who injured his right knee Saturday, is expected to miss
at least 10 days.