DETROIT -- With injuries decimating the Twins, especially in recent weeks, the club has had to rely on its fair share of rookies to get the job done.
It was evident against the Tigers on Sunday, when first-year left-hander Scott Diamond took the mound and was backed by a lineup that featured five other rookies, including shortstop Trevor Plouffe, third baseman Luke Hughes, first baseman Chris Parmelee, center fielder Joe Benson and left fielder Rene Tosoni.
The young players showed they still have plenty to improve upon, however, as Diamond turned in arguably the best start of his young career, but the Twins were held to four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
It marked the eighth loss in nine games for the Twins, who have been held to one run or fewer in five of their last eight contests. It's been a rough stretch for the Twins, who have been without key regulars such as Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer and Denard Span.
"Some young kids are learning on the job," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They have to figure out a way to get these things done themselves along with some of the veterans we have in there."
They simply had no answer for Tigers right-hander Doug Fister, who held the Twins in check by throwing seven scoreless innings. He allowed just three hits and walked two while striking out five.
"He did a good job of working over some younger hitters pretty good," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "They had some younger hitters up there today, and he took advantage of it. They'll figure it out. Those young hitters will make adjustments, too. It's just he took advantage of that today, kept it off the plate."
It spoiled an impressive performance from Diamond, who has making just his fifth big league start. He gave up just two runs (one earned) on seven hits and four walks over six innings while striking out four.
He had a rough first frame, though, as he allowed three straight singles to Austin Jackson, Magglio Ordonez and Delmon Young to open the game to give the Tigers an early run. He then induced what should've been a double-play ground ball hit by Miguel Cabrera, but second baseman Matt Tolbert booted it for an error to load the bases.
Victor Martinez then brought home the run from third by grounding into a double play before Ryan Raburn struck out to end the inning.
"He got the rough inning early," Gardenhire said. "We missed a play out there and got out of it with another double-play ball. He gave us six solid innings against a really good Tigers lineup."
Diamond, who needed 95 pitches to get through six innings, settled down after the first, and relied on the double play to get out of a few jams, as Martinez ended both the third and fifth innings by grounding into double plays.
"It's huge," Diamond said of the double plays. "I didn't have the best fastball command today. I was able to use my offspeed pitches to get ahead and get me back in the count. It was really big against the heart of the order and was the key to all those ground balls."
Fister, meanwhile, outpitched Diamond and allowed just two runners to reach third base to improve to 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA since being traded to Detroit in late July.
"Fister was very tough," Gardenhire said. "He was throwing hard inside. Our guys really battled to get him out of there and we really never mounted much."
Relievers Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde closed it out for the Tigers, even though Valverde ran into trouble in the final inning.
Joe Mauer walked and reached third base on a single from Hughes, but Parmelee failed to drive in Mauer from third with a shallow fly ball into left field. Jason Kubel, who has been bothered by a sore left foot, came in as a pinch-hitter and brought home a run with an RBI groundout.
But Tosoni stranded Hughes at second base, as he struck out to end the game and handed Valverde his 43rd save this year to break the Tigers' single-season record.
"It's good for me, my family and all my friends," said Valverde, who is a perfect 43-for-43 in save opportunities. "But what I want is to compete all the time, be in the field, save the game for my team to go to the postseason. That's what I want. It's good, but I want to go to the World Series."
With the loss, the Twins finished their season series against the first-place Tigers with a 4-14 record. It marks the most losses in club history against Detroit in a single season, and the most losses against one team since going 5-14 against Cleveland in 2001.