Fielder's HR in 8th lifts Tigers to victory
Minneapolis • The Detroit Tigers finally have a little bit of breathing room in what has been an air-tight AL Central title race.
Miguel Cabrera has no such luxury as he tries to become the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years.
Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning to lift Detroit to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Sunday, moving the Tigers to a season-high three game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central.
The White Sox lost to Tampa Bay 6-2. So with three games to go, Detroit can clinch the division title with a win in Kansas City on Monday or a Chicago loss to Cleveland.
"We're not all the way happy yet," Fielder said. "We have what, three games left? Try to win those and after that, we'll see what happens."
Fielder's opposite-field shot off Jared Burton (3-2) just barely cleared the wall in left field for his 30th homer of the season.
Cabrera, who is trying to become the first player since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 to win the Triple Crown, went 0 for 3 with an intentional walk, dropping his AL-leading batting average to .325.
Twins star Joe Mauer went 3 for 4 with an intentional walk to raise his average to .323, putting him right on Cabrera's heels going into the final series of the season.
Anibal Sanchez gave up one run on seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, Phil Coke (2-3) got the win in relief and Jose Valverde picked up his 34th save.
Cabrera and the powerful Tigers offense were held down for most of the game by Liam Hendriks, who gave up five hits and struck out three in seven shutout innings.
When Pedro Florimon gave the Twins a 1-0 lead on a single in the seventh, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire went to the rock steady right-hander Burton for the eighth. But Austin Jackson led off with a single up the middle and Fielder hit the first pitch he saw out of the park.
The big first baseman, who doesn't often show emotion on the diamond, nearly bowled over manager Jim Leyland when he reached the dugout.