DETROIT -- It's nearly been a historically bad start for the Twins this season, but there's still reason for hope.
With their 8-7 loss to the Tigers on Tuesday, the Twins recorded the second-highest loss total in franchise history through May. Their 36 losses this year trail only the first two months of the 1982 season, when they lost 39 times.
But Twins manager Ron Gardenhire believes his team's record in one-run games during May -- the club dropped eight games by one run, including its final four losses of the month -- indicates that it simply needs to turn things around and come through in those close games.
"The good part of it is that we're battling our tails off," Gardenhire said. "Our guys are really into the game and have been giving it everything they have. We have to continue to do that and find a way to get on top and win these ballgames. But unfortunately for us, it's another loss, and we have to live with that."
This time, the Twins were done in by a six-run fifth inning from the Tigers against left-hander Brian Duensing before the bullpen blew a late lead, despite being powered by two homers from Justin Morneau.
"It's getting to the point where it's not very fun, I'll tell you that much," Duensing said. "It feels like every time you come to the ballpark, it's a new day, but with the way things are going, for me personally, it's tough. You used to come to the ballpark and be excited to be here, but now it's really hard."
The Twins held a one-run lead in the seventh, on the strength of Morneau's impressive night at the plate, but left-hander Jose Mijares allowed a run on a sacrifice fly from Jhonny Peralta to tie the game after allowing the first two batters to reach.
Minnesota fell behind for good in the eighth inning on another sacrifice fly -- this one from Brennan Boesch -- after left-hander Phil Dumatrait gave up a leadoff single to Danny Worth, then threw too late to second on a sacrifice bunt attempt from Austin Jackson before Casper Wells advanced both runners with another sacrifice bunt.
"In that situation, I'm looking to be patient to get a pitch to hit, but I'm not trying to guide a sac fly," Boesch said of his go-ahead sac fly. "You're really just trying to stay relaxed and get a good pitch that you can do the job with."
Dumatrait took the blame after the game for the missed execution on the bunt but was confident he could have gotten Worth with a better throw.
"He bunted it pretty hard back at me so I just have to play catch right there," said Dumatrait, who lost his first game of the year. "We definitely have him if I throw right to the bag. But I rushed it a little bit and threw it in the dirt and didn't give us a chance."
It came after Morneau provided a go-ahead blast with two outs in the seventh inning off right-hander Max Scherzer, after a wild pitch from Scherzer scored Rene Rivera from third. It marked Morneau's fourth homer of the year and the first time he'd hit two homers in a game since May 17, 2010.
His first homer of the game came in the third inning and helped the Twins get out to an early 3-0 lead after an RBI single from Delmon Young in the second and a sacrifice fly from Alexi Casilla in the third.
But Morneau couldn't deliver in the ninth inning against right-hander Joaquin Benoit, striking out with two runners on and one out, before Michael Cuddyer grounded out to end the game.
"We were hoping he'd go up there the last time and do that Reggie [Jackson] candy thing and do it three times, but it didn't work out," Gardenhire said. "It was nice to see him up there in that situation. He was driving the ball and put it in the seats a couple times."
The Tigers took the lead in the fifth inning by scoring six runs off Duensing. Jackson brought home the first run with a single before Wells added another run with a ground-rule double to put runners at second and third with one out.
Shortstop Matt Tolbert then made a costly throwing error while trying to get Wells at third base but sailing the throw into the Tigers' dugout to allow two runs to score. Victor Martinez and Peralta both added RBI doubles to complete the inning for the Tigers. Peralta's double knocked Duensing out of the game, as he allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks over 4 2/3 innings
"One thing led to another," Duensing said. "I felt like I made a couple good pitches I didn't get rewarded on and they got some hits. It kind of snowballed from there. The more I tried to back off, the worse it got. The more I tried to press, the worse it got. It was just a bad inning."
It was another tough ballgame for the Twins, who lost for the ninth time in 11 games and extended their losing streak to Detroit to eight games.
"We scored enough runs to win," Gardenhire said. "Defense and pitching have got to hold them down."