Tigers nip Twins 5-4 in series opener

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) David Price struck out seven in six innings, his fastball occasionally hitting 97 mph on the Target Field radar gun.

He walked off the mound with a 5-3 lead and ended the night the winner, but you never would've known that by his frustrated demeanor afterward.

Yoenis Cespedes had a homer, a double and three RBIs to back Price in the Detroit Tigers' 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

''I guess I pitched good enough to get by,'' Price said. ''But I can get better.''

Jose Iglesias raised his average to .397 with a homer and a triple among his three hits and Price (2-1) gave up in six innings for the Tigers (14-6), who have won three straight after a four-game losing skid. Joakim Soria picked up his eighth save in eight chances.

''Price wasn't at his best, but for that type of start not to be his best is basically what David Price is,'' second baseman Ian Kinsler said. ''It's nice to have that guy on the mound.''

Danny Santana had two hits and an RBI for the Twins (8-11), who had the tying run at second base with one out. Tommy Milone (2-1) gave up five runs on eight hits in four innings.

The Tigers jumped on Milone early, with Iglesias hitting a solo homer and Cespedes adding a three-run shot for a quick 4-0 lead.

With that much of a cushion, Price didn't hesitate to attack the strike zone with that 97-mph fastball. He was tagged for eight runs in 2 1-3 innings the last time out against the Yankees and, after an overpowering start, couldn't quite put away the pesky Twins.

Price's night ended on an RBI-double from light-hitting Jordan Schafer in the seventh that cut Detroit's lead to 5-3.

''That's what makes a good starting pitcher, that's what makes a Major League Baseball player is consistency,'' Price said. ''And I haven't shown that yet.''

Alex Wilson, Joba Chamberlain and Soria were able to close the door, giving the Tigers the second-most wins in the majors behind the New York Mets (15-5).

Joe Mauer hit his 313th double, moving him past Kent Hrbek and into sole possession of third place on the Twins career list.

IGLESIAS ROLLS ON

The Tigers shortstop missed all of last season with stress fractures in both shins. He's been a difference maker early in this season, having hit safely in 15 of his 19 games and driving in the winning run to beat the White Sox on Friday. His homer was his first since Sept. 9, 2013.

''He's our spark plug,'' Price said. ''It's awesome what he's been able to do for us. ... He's been a good pick-me-up.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Tigers: Manager Brad Ausmus said RHP Justin Verlander's strained right triceps is making incremental improvement. Verlander started the season on the disabled list and had an MRI on Friday that showed a smaller amount of inflammation. He will have another MRI next week. ''This is just one of those things you can't try to force your way through, which is hard because everything I've done in the past is, `Alright, let's attack this. Let's work through it. Let's go throw,''' Verlander said. ''And this is just not one of those things you can do that with.''

Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco arrived in the Twin Cities after throwing 66 pitches in a rehab start. Manager Paul Molitor said the team wanted to evaluate his right elbow, but would not make a decision on the next step until later in the week. ... RHP Trevor May threw a bullpen without any issue after he was hit by a batted ball on Saturday.

UP NEXT

The Tigers send RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-2, 5.96) to the mound to face RHP Mike Pelfrey (1-0, 2.65). Pelfrey threw seven shutout innings against Kansas City in his last start, his first scoreless outing in 23 appearances. The Tigers are 1-3 in games started by Sanchez this season and 13-3 in games started by anyone else.

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