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Fielder's single gives Tigers 7-6 win over Twins

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 24, 2013 at 12:17 am •  Published: May 24, 2013

DETROIT (AP) — Jim Leyland is usually pretty confident about his managerial moves.

Thursday, though, he wasn't entirely sure if he had done something smart or stupid.

With the game tied in the eighth, Omar Infante started the inning with a single, and Leyland decided to have Torii Hunter bunt him to second.

That put the go-ahead run in scoring position, but meant taking the bat out of the hands of Miguel Cabrera, baseball's hottest hitter.

"That was a tough call," Leyland acknowledged after the game. "That's definitely a move that the fans are going to discuss, and I don't have any problem with that. I wasn't sure, either."

Sure enough, Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire immediately signaled for the intentional walk. The reason Leyland took the chance? Prince Fielder was coming up next, and facing right-hander Jared Burton.

"If they had a tough lefty to pitch to Prince — maybe Glen Perkins if it had been the ninth inning — I might not have bunted," Leyland said. "Prince has 40 RBIs hitting behind Miguel Cabrera, so I was willing to roll the dice with him."

The plan worked, but only barely. Fielder hit what looked like a possible double-play grounder, but it deflected off Burton's glove and past second baseman Brian Dozier. Infante scored easily, and the Tigers held on to win 7-6.

"You hate walking anyone to pitch to Prince Fielder, I can tell you that right now," Gardenhire said. "But you've got to take your choice, and the way Cabrera is swinging the bat, you've got to do it. We got the groundball. It just didn't work out."

Before the intentional walk, Cabrera had driven in three runs, including his sixth homer in four games. He's matched a career high by homering in four straight games. He has also walked five times in the four games, and Fielder has followed all five with hits, driving in seven more runs. In the four games, the pair have combined to drive in 20 runs.

"It's absolutely incredible what they are doing," Tigers starter Rick Porcello said. "If I were pitching against them, I'd just walk both of them every time they came up."

Joaquin Benoit (1-0) picked up the win with a perfect inning of relief, while Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his fifth save.

The Tigers trailed 6-3 going into the bottom of the seventh, but scored three times off three Minnesota pitchers. Infante singled and Cabrera walked with one out, bringing Brian Duensing into the game. He allowed RBI singles to Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez before giving way to Burton.

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