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Pavano steps in and helps Twins beat Tigers

Minnesota's Michael Cuddyer, right, scores from third base past Detroit Tigers catcher Gerald Laird on a sacrifice fly ball hit by Alexi Casilla in the fifth inning of a baseball game Saturday in Detroit. AP Photo/Duane Burleson

DETROIT (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins got just what they needed from Carl Pavano and the usual from Denard Span and Joe Mauer.

He allowed only five hits over seven innings in his Minnesota debut, Span went 5-for-5 and Mauer homered and drove in three runs to lift the Twins to a 11-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Saturday night.

Jose Mijares and Glen Perkins completed the combined six-hit shutout with an inning each for third-place Minnesota, which moved to within 4½ games of first place Detroit in the A.L. Central.

"I was glad to go out a put together a good outing right off the bat," Pavano said.

The Twins' starting rotation is in shambles and the team has been looking for some stability there.

"It was a kind of a pleasure to watch a guy who has been around for awhile use all of his pitches," Minnesota manger Ron Gardenhire said.

It was the second time in a week that Pavano (10-8) handcuffed the Tigers. Last Sunday, while with the Cleveland Indians, Pavano allowed Detroit only a run on six hits in eight innings in an 11-1 win. He is 4-0 with a 1.48 ERA against the Tigers this season.

The Twins acquired Pavano for a player to be named later on Friday.

He didn't walk a batter and struck out five.

"I thought the ball was a little higher than I'd like, but I was able to make some adjustments," Pavano said. "... I kind of pride myself on my command. I want to control both sides of the plate and go from there."

It was the second five-hit game of Span's career. The first was this past July 3, against Detroit. He is 9-for-11 in his last two games and a lifetime .444 hitter (40-for-90) against the Tigers.

"He hits us like he's in our meeting before the game," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.

Justin Verlander (12-6) allowed five runs and seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out six. He now has a career high 186 strikeouts.

"I had good stuff but made a couple of dumb pitches and that cost me," he said.

Mauer took advantage of one for a two-run homer in the first to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead. He drove Verlander's first pitch over the left-field fence for his 20th home run.

It also scored Span, who led off with a double.

Pavano worked out of a bases-loaded one out jam in the second by striking out Adam Everett and getting Curtis Granderson on a groundout.

Alexi Casillas' sacrifice made it 3-0 in the fifth.

An outstanding play by third baseman Nick Punto got Pavano out of a first and third, one out situation in the Tigers' fifth. Playing even with the bag, Punto dove to his left to nab Placido Polanco's grounder. Punto then threw from his knees to Casillas at second, who made the relay to first for an inning-ending double play.

"That was huge," Gardenhire said. "A big momentum boost."