DETROIT - After 11 fruitless at-bats, Joe Benson finally delivered his first big-league hit Saturday, but the moment had barely passed when he made two of the fundamental baserunning mistakes that have undermined the Twins all season.
Fellow rookie Chris Parmelee lumbered from first to third on Benson's hit, and when Tigers left fielder Delmon Young threw to third, Benson should have raced to second.
Instead, Benson was stuck on first, where he fell for the pickoff move that never seems to work. Detroit's Max Scherzer faked to third base and threw to first, catching Benson leaning the wrong way for the out.
The Twins didn't score that inning, and a game full of teachable moments ended when Brandon Inge hit a walk-off homer off Glen Perkins in the ninth inning, giving Detroit a 3-2 victory at Comerica Park.
"I guess it's part of the learning experience," Benson said after going 2-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts. "I'm not too happy about it right now."
Manager Ron Gardenhire was pleased with his team's pitching, especially the six-inning, two-run effort by Anthony Swarzak, but the latest loss means the Twins need to go 4-13 in their final 17 games to avoid their first 100-loss season since 1982.
Rookie Brian Dinkelman had two poor at-bats, failing to get Parmelee home with one out in the second and then failing to advance Benson after his leadoff double in the seventh.
Scherzer escaped the seventh when Luke Hughes and Rene Tosoni each took third strikes. Tosoni entered as a pinch hitter and faced six pitches without taking a swing. "No one ever does anything standing with a bat on their shoulder," Gardenhire said. "You've got to take some swings."
Michael Cuddyer played in 112 of the Twins' first 117 games this year, batting .295 with 18 homers and 61 RBI. After missing nine games because of a neck injury, the team's lone All-Star started three games but left the third one after getting drilled in the left wrist with a fastball from Baltimore's Jeremy Guthrie.
Cuddyer had a magnetic resonance imaging exam the next day but stayed in the lineup for two more games. Then, after a two-day break, he tried playing six more games. But after getting hit in the wrist, he went 5-for-38 (.132) with 10 strikeouts.
"We didn't have anybody else to play, so I fought through it," Cuddyer said.
He hasn't played since Monday and is still dealing with two bone bruises and some inflammation in the wrist. But he took some swings Saturday and sounded optimistic about being able to play Tuesday.
Nishioka still hobbled
Tsuyoshi Nishioka has been determined to play through a nagging oblique injury, but after getting five days off, he played Friday and "didn't look right, especially swinging righthanded," Gardenhire said.
"I'm really worried about that ribs thing," said Gardenhire, who didn't play Nishioka on Saturday.