MINNEAPOLIS -- Throughout the road trip, the Tigers got strong starting pitching performances and rode to five wins in six games. But they could not do much to slow down the Twins on Sunday as the Tigers closed out the trip with an 11-4 loss at Target Field.
Minnesota, which had scored just nine runs in its last seven games, pounded out 12 hits, including three home runs, as it snapped a seven-game losing skid. For the Tigers, the 11 runs allowed also matched the total number of runs they had given up over the first six games of the seven-game trip.
"They jumped us today," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Our pitching just didn't stop them today."
Right-hander Brad Penny delivered his worst start of the month, lasting just five-plus innings as he allowed seven runs on eight hits with five strikeouts against two walks.
It was the third time this season Penny gave up seven or more runs, and the second in his last six starts.
From the beginning, it was struggle for Penny, who gave up a single, threw a wild pitch and surrendered a two-run homer to Jason Kubel in the first inning.
"We had a tough stretch," Kubel said. "Yesterday we got it going a little bit, and today it got a little bit better. Hopefully we can keep it going."
Penny allowed another run in the third, and the game got away from him in a three-run fourth inning.
Twins third baseman Danny Valencia led off with a single, followed by Rene Tosoni's RBI triple on a ball that got by right fielder Magglio Ordonez in the gap. Luke Hughes then followed with a two-run blast into the Twins' bullpen, opening up a four-run lead for Minnesota.
"That was a hanging changeup," Penny said. "Right down the middle. I think if I would've stayed hard, it's probably a different outcome."
Penny made quick work of the Twins in the fifth, and got a couple runs back in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-4, but walked the last batter he faced to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Tosoni then came around to score on a Rene Rivera sacrifice fly as David Pauley relieved Penny.
In the seventh, Hughes crushed a three-run blast for his first career two-homer game and his third home run in the last two days. Hughes also added a nice diving stop on a hard-hit grounder by Miguel Cabrera in the eighth for good measure.
"Penny comes at you. This guy has a good fastball," Hughes said. "But I actually hit a changeup off him, which was kinda interesting. But [Twins pitcher Anthony] Swarzak spoke to me before the game and told me I was gonna hit another one. So I'll have to give him a shout-out."
The Tigers answered the Twins' first two runs, scoring a pair on Ramon Santiago's single in the second. A leadoff single by Delmon Young in the sixth was followed by a Cabrera double as Detroit scored two more runs off Twins lefty Brian Duensing.
Santiago was a bright spot for the Tigers with his third career four-hit game and first since June 17, 2010, against the Nationals. He also tied a season high with two RBIs.
"I was aggressive today," Santiago said. "I just put in my mind, 'I've got to be aggressive, swinging early.' Yesterday, I was taking a lot of strikes, and today I just came and decided to be aggressive and try to swing at good pitches."
Bouncing back from a pair of bad outings, Duensing delivered a quality start for the Twins, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits over six innings. He also walked three and struck out four.
Despite the loss, the Tigers still finished 5-2 on the trip.
Over seven games, the Tigers' pitching staff posted a 3.16 ERA, while the starters went 5-1 with a 3.37 ERA. Entering Sunday's game, the Tigers had a 1.84 ERA through the first six games of the trip, including the starters with a 2.15 ERA.
"We got beat today," Leyland said. "[But] we won five out of seven in Florida and Minnesota. That's pretty good."
Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.