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Tigers squash Twins' streak

DETROIT — Ron Gardenhire likened Samuel Deduno to a knuckleball pitcher before Saturday’s game — “You’re always on the top step” when he pitches.

The Minnesota Twins manager wasn’t there for long once the game began.

Deduno allowed seven runs in the third inning Saturday and retired only seven Detroit batters, ending the Twins’ three-game winning streak with a 12-9 thud to the Tigers at Comerica Park.

It’s only the third time this season that Minnesota has surrendered double-digit scoring — and two of them have come in Deduno’s last two starts. This one came accompanied by a season-worst 17 hits allowed: seven singles, six doubles, a triple and two home runs. Today may be Kids Run the Bases day here; but Saturday it was the grown-ups’ turn, with almost as much traffic.

All the offense is an indictment of the bullpen, too, but Deduno set the tone from the start, needing a first-inning strikeout of J.D. Martinez to keep the Tigers from taking an early lead.

Deduno couldn’t work his way out of trouble two innings later. After rookie Eugenio Suarez led off with a long home run that cleared the bullpens in left-center, Deduno walked Ian Kinsler. Torii Hunter then chopped a ball in front of the plate, but the ricochet bounced so high, third baseman Trevor Plouffe couldn’t reach it, and it landed down the left-field line for a run-scoring double.

When Miguel Cabrera followed with an RBI single up the middle, pitching coach Rick Anderson tried to help Deduno regroup on the mound.

It didn’t work. Victor Martinez hit a smash that bounced off the railing above the home-run line in right, and the inning was officially snowballing on Deduno. By the time it was over, he had allowed seven runs on seven hits, continuing a disturbing June run.

Deduno has allowed four or more runs in three of his last four starts, hasn’t completed the sixth inning in any of them, and owns a 10.13 ERA over that span.

The Tigers collected 19 hits on the day, most allowed by the Twins this season, and 10 of them for extra bases. Suarez, playing just his eighth big-league game, added an RBI double and a triple to his performance, and came to the plate in the eighth inning with a chance to hit for the cycle. But he hit into a force out, settling for a 3-for-4, two-RBI day.

All the Detroit offense — four different Minnesota pitchers allowed a run — obscured a strong start by Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, who entered the seventh inning with only three singles allowed and an 11-1 lead. It also overshadowed an impressive Twins’ comeback, with three runs apiece in the seventh and eighth innings.

In fact, after Gardenhire challenged and successfully overturned an Eduardo Nunez groundout that was actually an infield hit in the eighth inning, the Twins strung together three more hits and a walk to close the gap to five, and bring Joe Mauer to the plate with the bases loaded. But Ian Krol induced a routine grounder to first, ending the rally and closing Mauer’s 0-for-5 day.

The game may have been costly in more ways than one. Trevor Plouffe made a diving attempt at a ground ball in the third inning, and injured himself on the play. He remained in the game for one more batter, throwing out Hunter to end the inning, but was removed afterward and diagnosed with a strained left oblique, an injury that frequently requires a week or two to heal.

Nunez appeared hobbled, too, after beating out the infield hit that Gardenhire challenged. He was removed from the game in favor of Brian Dozier, who had not played since Wednesday after suffering a back injury.