Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run home run in the eighth inning that proved to be the winner as Detroit edged Minnesota, 6-4, at Target Field.
Detroit moved two games ahead of Chicago for the top spot in the AL Central as the White Sox lost to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
Andy Dirks and Prince Fielder each hit a solo home run while Justin Verlander (17-8) gave up just four hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over seven- plus innings to win his fourth straight start for the Tigers, who have won five of six.
"One bad pitch or one home run can change the game, luckily I was able to keep the ball away from them when they did get guys on today," said Verlander. "I felt pretty good out there today and it's nice to get some space in the division chase, but we still have more work to do."
Cabrera moved into a tie with Texas' Josh Hamilton for the lead in the AL with 43 homers. Cabrera leads the AL with a .327 batting average and also in RBI with 136. He's trying to become the first player to win a Triple Crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Ryan Doumit hit a grand slam in the eighth inning for the Twins, who had won four of six coming into the game. P.J. Walters (2-5) gave up two runs on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts over five innings to drop his fourth straight decision.
"We fought to the finish, just came up a little short," said Doumit. "They're a good team and they threw their best pitcher at us. Things just didn't go our way today."
Detroit had led by a 2-0 score since the second inning when Fielder homered and Jhonny Peralta doubled home Andy Dirks, and the team got some much-needed insurance in the eighth.
Austin Jackson led off with a single and Quintin Berry walked. Casey Fien then took the mound for Minnesota and Cabrera smoked a line-drive shot over the left-field wall. Dirks later homered for a 6-0 lead.
Doumit's grand slam in the eighth inning, the fourth of his career, got the Twins within striking distance.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde walked Denard Span to lead off the ninth inning and bring the tying run to the plate, but he set down the next three batters for his 33rd save of the season.
Detroit has won nine of its 17 games with Minnesota this season ... Verlander moved to 12-7 in his career against the Twins ... Walters went to 1-1 in five games against the Tigers ... The Twins left nine men on base, as they went 1- for-9 with runners in scoring position.