Detroit, MI (SportsNetwork.com) - Eduardo Escobar had four hits and knocked in a career-high six runs, leading the Minnesota Twins to an easy 12-3 win over the playoff-bound Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.
Escobar, who didn't have more than two RBI in any other game this season, had three singles and a three-run homer for the Twins, who have won four of their last five, including two of the first three in this series as they try to play the role of spoiler.
"It's always nice to play the spoiler," said winner Ricky Nolasco, "but we don't play this game to be the spoiler. We play this game to be in their position. Their backs are against the wall, so we'll see what happens tomorrow."
The Tigers entered play with a one-game lead over Kansas City for first place in the AL Central and could have clinched their fourth straight division title with a win and a Royals loss to the White Sox.
Instead, they lost for the second day in a row to the division's last-place team. The Royals fell to the White Sox 5-4, remaining one game behind going into the last day of the regular season.
"It's frustrating for sure," complained Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, who said the game was "almost a carbon copy" of Friday's 11-4 loss. "You're in such a deep hole it's hard to climb out."
Brian Dozier added a solo homer for the Twins, who hit 70 wins (70-91) for the first time since 2010. Nolasco (6-12) gave up two runs in six innings to snap a nine-start winless streak, gaining a victory for the first time since July 1.
Nick Castellanos hit a solo homer and drove in all three runs for the Tigers while rookie left-hander Kyle Lobstein (1-2) was charged with six runs in 4 2/3 innings.
Tigers center fielder Rajai Davis came out of the game after grounding out to end the second inning. He appeared to be favoring his groin.
Castellanos went the other way to right for a homer in the second inning, but Minnesota took a 6-1 lead and knocked Lobstein out of the game in the fifth.
The Twins had eight hits in the inning -- all singles. They loaded the bases with one out on hits by Escobar, Chris Herrmann and Danny Santana and Brian Dozier knocked in the first run with the fourth single.
A run scored on Joe Mauer's groundout before Lobstein intentionally walked Kennys Vargas to load the bases again, setting up Eric Fryer's two-run hit. That chased Lobstein for Phil Coke, who surrendered a single to Oswaldo Arcia and a two-run hit to Escobar for the five-run lead.
Torii Hunter stroked a leadoff single in the sixth inning and the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs, but scored only one run.
Escobar and Herrmann hit consecutive RBI singles in the seventh off Blaine Hardy, and Dozier and Escobar homered in the eighth inning to make it 12-2.
It was Escobar's second big game against the Tigers in just over a month. He had a career-high five hits and finished a double shy of the cycle in a 20-6 win against them on Aug. 22.
Castellanos added a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning.
It was Castellanos' 11th homer of the season ... The Royals, who have clinched their first playoff berth in 29 years, haven't won a division title in the same number of years -- since taking the old AL West in 1985 on the way to a World Series title.