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DETROIT (AP) — Rick Porcello can finally close the book on a rough September.
As for the rest of the Detroit Tigers — they still have work to do after the AL Central race tightened again.
Porcello allowed six runs in under four innings, and Detroit lost 11-4 to the Minnesota Twins on Friday night. The Tigers could have clinched the division with a victory and a Kansas City loss, but neither of those things happened, and now Detroit leads the Royals by only one game with two to play.
"We've had two really tough stretches this year, and we've bounced back from them," Porcello said. "This is one game. We're OK."
Porcello allowed four earned runs and six hits in 3 2-3 innings. He is 0-4 with a 6.20 ERA in September, but with the Tigers heading to the postseason in some fashion next week, manager Brad Ausmus hopes his right-hander can bounce back. Porcello (15-13) has surpassed 200 innings this year for the first time in his career.
"Obviously, I'm aware of where his innings are, but I don't think that's the issue," Ausmus said. "If it were fatigue, I'd expect to see a massive degradation in his performance, and we aren't seeing anything like that. He's just leaving a couple pitches in bad spots and teams are hitting the heck out of them."
The Tigers fell way behind early. Oswaldo Arcia hit a two-run homer in the first, and Minnesota led 6-0 in the fourth.
A.J. Achter (1-0) earned his first career win with a solid relief effort. The former Michigan State Spartan worked two innings, holding the Tigers without a run until he allowed Miguel Cabrera's solo homer in the seventh.
"The Tigers are a team I grew up rooting for — I think that's pretty well known," said the 26-year-old Achter, who was born in Toledo, Ohio. "I came to games here, at least one a year, growing up, so for it to happen here, it's just another thing in my career that's been pretty unbelievable."
The Tigers did get a scoreless inning of relief from Anibal Sanchez, who pitched for the first time since Aug. 8 after being out with a pectoral strain.
Minnesota opened the scoring on Brian Dozier's RBI single in the first, and Arcia's home run made it 3-0. Dozier added a solo homer in the third, his 22nd of the year.
The Twins added a couple of unearned runs in the fourth when third baseman Nick Castellanos' throwing error allowed Chris Herrmann and Aaron Hicks to score.
Minnesota starter Anthony Swarzak allowed three runs and seven hits in 4 1-3 innings, and with the score 6-3 in the fifth, Achter came on with one out and men on first and second. Victor Martinez came within a few feet of tying the game with a drive down the line in right, but it was caught in front of the wall, and Achter got J.D Martinez on a flyout to end the inning.
The Twins responded with four runs in the sixth.
Dozier and Danny Santana had three hits each for the Twins, and Dozier and Arcia drove in three runs apiece.
The Tigers are trying for a fourth straight division title, and the Royals have pushed them to the final weekend of the season. Kansas City clinched at least a wild card Friday.
"We're still up a game, so the pressure is all on the Royals," Detroit outfielder Rajai Davis said. "This is still in our hands."
Achter's father wasn't in attendance Friday because he had a high school football game to coach, but he gave a game ball to his mother.
"That was pretty emotional. She just beat breast cancer this offseason," Achter said. "For her to be a part of this and to be here, it's all around a pretty special moment."
Twins: OF Jordan Schafer has a hyperextended right elbow. He was available to pinch-run but didn't play.
Tigers: Sanchez was activated from the disabled list before Tuesday's game in Detroit, but he didn't pitch until Friday. He threw 14 pitches against the Twins, allowing only one hit — an infield single by Santana.
"We'll see how I feel tomorrow and decide where to go from there," Sanchez said. "I hope to pitch at least one more time before the playoffs, but I'm not too concerned about it."
Detroit LHP Kyle Lobstein (1-1) takes the mound against Minnesota RHP Ricky Nolasco (5-12) on Saturday night. Lobstein made his major league debut against the Twins last month, allowing three runs in 5 2-3 innings of relief.