DETROIT — One-run games this season are like kryptonite for the Minnesota Twins, who are 3-13 when the screws tighten.
Wednesday night against the Tigers, they clung to a 2-1 lead for most of the game at Comerica Park as starting pitcher Jose Berrios dutifully threw himself into jams only to craftily pitch out of them.
Still, the Twins were unable provide Berrios or their overworked bullpen with supplemental offense, and Detroit’s hibernating bats finally came to life during a momentous eighth inning.
The Tigers rallied for four runs off losing reliever Addison Reed to turn a slogging deficit into quick 5-2 victory to even this three-game series and reclaim second place from Minnesota in the American League Central Division.
Aggravating for Reed was getting ahead in the count with two strikes on each of Detroit’s run-producers and letting them wiggle off the hook.
“Man, I had everybody where I wanted them, 0-2, 1-2, just not finishing the job off,” said Reed, who was tagged for his fifth loss this season.
More frustrating was failing to finish the job for Berrios, who struck out seven in allowing just one run and seven hits.
“The worst part of tonight is I let down Jose. He threw a hell of a game,” said Reed. “That was fun to watch. He works his tail off, and it’s showing when he’s out there. I’m most (ticked) off tonight not getting him the ‘W.’
“We got the loss, but the worst part of tonight is not having him rewarded.”
Reed retired Victor Martinez to start the eighth before Detroit strung together three consecutive singles, the latter a cue shot into right field by Grayson Greiner to drive in the tying run.
Following a flyout, Victor Reyes delivered a two-out RBI single to make it 3-2. Then Leonys Martin laced another single into right field off Reed that scored another. When Robbie Grossman’s throw sailed over catcher Bobby Wilson and bounced into the seats, Detroit tacked on one more punitive run to bury the Twins.
The Tigers were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position before their eighth-inning explosion.
Manager Paul Molitor said Reed’s inability to locate his pitches, leaving several belt-high for bashing, doomed him and the Twins.
“You get a chance to put guys away late in the game, you hope to do a little better than that,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minnesota’s popgun offense hardly threatened Detroit, which loitered around despite failing to cash in several scoring opportunities against Berrios.
Leadoff man Brian Dozier went 0 for 2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.
Absentee cleanup hitter Miguel Sano was 0 for 4, adding two more strikeouts to his team-high 66.
Logan Morrison was 1 for 4 with a weak single and is hitting .191 with an OBP of .300.
Robbie Grossman: 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
Ehire Adrianza, Tuesday night’s grand slam hero: 0 for 4 with a pair of strikeouts.
“Some guys are having a hard time right now, whether they’re putting more pressure on themselves or not,” said Molitor. “It’s not a blame thing as much as you’ve got to continue to work and find a way to get yourselves out of it if you’re in a bit of a funk.”
Berrios had the Tigers in a confounding funk for most of the game.
In the third and sixth, they put runners in scoring position with one out only to have Berrios snuff the threats with consecutive strikeouts.
Detroit loaded the bases in the fifth with a pair of singles and a hit batsman.
Reyes beat out a Dozier scoop and flip, an out that was overturned by replay. Martin also reached on a hard smash that Morrison could not come up with. Berrios was noticeably annoyed after grazing Candelario with a pitch to put three aboard with two outs.
Berrios induced Martinez to ground out to Morrison, stomping on first base after taking the flip from his first baseman and skulking to the dugout.
“We dodged bullets all night; just not enough offense,” Molitor lamented. “It’s an offensive disappointment. You’ve got to be able to score more than that and put pressure on them.”
The Twins pounced on Detroit starter Matthew Boyd for a pair in the first.
Dozier was hit by a pitch and Eddie Rosario doubled. Eduardo Escobar laced a single into center to score both but not after another crafty piece of baserunning by Rosario.
Rosario stutter-stepped through third-base coach Gene Glynn’s stop sign, goading center fielder Martin to hesitate with his throw into the infield. Rosario exploited the delay and raced home as Martin’s throw was cut off.
But it was all the Twins could muster before Detroit got one back in the second on Goodrum’s two-out solo homer, a line-drive no-doubter deep into the right-field seats.