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Tigers hope to avoid sweep by lowly Twins

The Detroit Tigers look to avoid being swept in two games by the worst team in baseball, as they close out a series with the Minnesota Twins this afternoon from Comerica Park.

Detroit was handed an 11-7 loss in last night's series opener as starting pitcher Rick Porcello lasted just four innings and allowed six runs -- two earned -- and six hits in the no-decision. Duane Below gave up a pair of runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief to absorb the loss.

The Tigers' slugging duo of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder combined for four runs batted in and three hits, while Andy Dirks went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored for the Tigers, who have lost four of six games. Austin Jackson finished with two hits, two runs scored and knocked in a run. Jackson left after the fourth inning with an abdominal strain and is day-to-day.

"It's frustrating," said Fielder. "It happens. We just didn't get it done."

Fielder is batting .583 with three doubles and four RBI in his last three games in his new digs. Cabrera owns six RBI in his last four contests.

The Tigers opened a five-game homestand in losing fashion last night and will also host the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Doug Fister is still searching for his first win of the season and gets the nod for the Tigers this afternoon. Fister, who missed a month with a strained left side, lost his last start on Saturday in a 3-1 setback at Oakland in which he tossed six solid innings of one-run ball and struck out a season-high eight batters.

Fister is 0-1 with a 0.54 ERA in three starts and had pitched 10 2/3 scoreless innings before his last appearance. The right-hander hasn't enjoyed much success against Minnesota, going 1-4 with a 3.24 ERA in five career starts.

Minnesota won for just the fourth time in 12 tries last night, but didn't get much help from starter Nick Blackburn, who allowed six runs and six hits in just two innings of work. Alex Burnett posted the win with a scoreless inning of relief.

Brian Dozier hit a three-run homer and Trevor Plouffe hit a two-run shot for the Twins, who still have the worst record in the majors at 11-26 and have won back-to-back games only once this season. Josh Willingham ended 3-for-5 with an RBI and two runs scored, while first baseman Justin Morneau was activated off the disabled list because of a wrist injury and doubled in five at-bats.

"It's a big [win]. They're all big right now," said Plouffe. "We're trying to scrape them together and get a couple in a row. To come into Detroit and out- slug them, that says a lot about our team."

The Twins opened an eight-game road trip on a high note and will also visit Milwaukee and the White Sox on the journey.

With struggling lefty Francisco Liriano in the bullpen, the Twins gave P.J. Walters an opportunity to get some starts under his belt. Walters pitched well in a 2-1 loss to Toronto on Saturday and gets the nod again Thursday.

Walters, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Rochester prior to the start, permitted a pair of runs and six hits in six innings during his Twins' debut. He fanned five and did not issue a walk. He was 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in six starts for the Red Wings in the minors.

The right-hander will make his first career start against the Tigers and faced them once before in a relief role.

Detroit went 14-4 against Minnesota last season with a 7-2 record at home.