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Tigers-Twins Preview

The Detroit Tigers maintained their lead atop the AL Central despite a frustrating defeat to the Minnesota Twins.

They might not be as lucky if they continue to stumble against inferior competition.

The Tigers will try to bounce back Wednesday night with David Price on the hill in Minneapolis.

Detroit (84-67) suffered a 4-3 loss to the Twins on Tuesday but kept its 1 1/2-game edge over Kansas City for first place with the Royals losing to the White Sox.

Aaron Hicks drove in the winning run with a two-out single in the ninth against closer Joe Nathan after the Tigers took the lead in the top half for the second straight night. They had been shut out until J.D. Martinez's three-run shot Tuesday, one night after Torii Hunter and Miguel Cabrera powered Detroit to an 8-6 victory with back-to-back homers in the ninth.

The Tigers are just 7-7 against the Twins (64-87), who had lost nine of 11 and a major league-worst 17 of 23.

"Anybody who thought this was going to be easy and we'd go out and win every game really doesn't understand the game of baseball," manager Brad Ausmus said.

Ausmus would prefer to see a little more consistency out of Price (14-11, 3.26 ERA), who is 3-3 with a 3.70 ERA in eight starts for his new club. He gave up a combined 13 runs over 10 2-3 innings in losses to the Yankees and San Francisco on Aug. 27 and Sept. 6, but yielded just one run in wins over Cleveland on Sept. 1 and Sept. 12.

Detroit has been able to depend on him to eat up innings - he's logged 56 since being acquired.

"I know the stuff that I possess out there on the mound is good enough to get teams out, it's good enough to be dominant," Price said. "I just want to be able to pitch as deep as possible into the game."

He was outstanding the last time he visited Target Field, striking out nine and yielding just four hits over eight innings in a 5-1 victory for the Rays on July 19. Price improved to 4-2 with a 2.34 ERA in nine games against the Twins, including eight starts.

Minnesota's Kyle Gibson (11-11, 4.58) owns a 6.69 ERA over his last seven outings and is winless in the last five after he was shelled for seven runs in three innings of an 8-2 defeat at Cleveland on Thursday.

"It just seemed like everything I was throwing up there, they were hitting," he said.

Gibson's stretch might only worsen versus the Tigers after going 1-2 with a 7.24 ERA in his first three matchups this year. He was charged with five runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings of a 13-4 home loss to Detroit on Aug. 24.

Alex Avila and Ian Kinsler are both 3 for 7 against Gibson, though Avila missed a second straight game Tuesday with concussion-like symptoms and is day to day.

Oswaldo Arcia - owner a seven-game hitting streak - didn't play Tuesday due to back stiffness. He's likely to sit out Wednesday's finale with an off day coming Thursday.

Trevor Plouffe is 4 for 9 against Price.

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