DETROIT – After striking out Justin Morneau to end the game, Anibal Sanchez slammed his fist in his glove, then swung his arm in front of him as if to signal ‘‘close but not quite.’’
Sanchez was on his way to the second no-hitter of his career but couldn’t get past Joe Mauer, the unofficial no-hitter breakup artist.
Mauer’s one-out single in the ninth ended Sanchez’s no-hit bid, saved the Twins from being no-hit for the second consecutive season and crushed an announced crowd of 39,789 at Comerica Park, fans who were on their feet and ready to celebrate history.
Detroit eased to a 6-0 victory, however, handing the Twins their 10th consecutive loss, their longest losing streak since losing 11 in a row in September 2011.
Afterward, Sanchez praised Mauer, the three-time batting champion who, at .324, is the leading hitter among active players.
‘‘He’s one of the best,’’ Sanchez said. ‘‘It’s really hard to face this guy four times or five times and dominate. He’s so smart. Everybody knows who’s Mauer.’’
What Sanchez didn’t know is that Mauer now has broken up three no-hit bids in the ninth inning. He singled off the Rangers’ Neftali Feliz on Aug. 23, 2010, at Texas as he tried to finish off a combined no-hitter started by Rich Harden. And Mauer doubled off Gavin Floyd on May 6, 2008, in Chicago to crush his no-hit dreams.
‘‘Any time I go up there I try to get a hit, get on base, do something on the offensive side,’’ Mauer said. ‘‘Got one hit, it doesn’t take away from what he did out there tonight. Sanchez was great, and we still lost.’’
Mauer reached on a fielder’s choice and struck out twice before batting in the ninth as Tigers fans leaned on him with their voices. Sanchez threw an 80-miles-per-hour curveball that Mauer laced into center for the Tiger-deflating hit.
Sanchez finished with the one hit, three walks and 12 strikeouts and still was surrounded by teammates after the final out.
Sanchez’s one no-hitter of his career came on Sept. 6, 2006, when he was a rookie.
‘‘Congratulations to him,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. ‘‘That was a hell of a ballgame. Fortunately, Joe came up and got us a hit. Unfortunately for [Sanchez].’’
Sanchez’s 92-mph fastball, curveball and slider overwhelmed Twins hitters most of the night. Jamey Carroll, Chris Parmelee and Eduardo Escobar drew walks, but that was it until Mauer saved the team from being on the wrong side of history.
Sanchez retired 18 consecutive Twins at one point. The hardest-hit ball was Morneau’s rope in the seventh inning that shortstop Jhonny Peralta caught after taking one step to his left. Sanchez improved to 5-4 with a 2.38 ERA.
‘‘Carroll, first batter, led off the game with a walk and had a good at-bat,’’ Parmelee said. ‘‘I kind of said to myself, ‘[Sanchez] might not have it tonight.’ He definitely proved me wrong. He had his stuff tonight.’’
Offensively, the Tigers scored three runs in the second, taking advantage of a couple of defensive miscues by Twins righthander Samuel Deduno. Don Kelly added a two-run homer in the third and Omar Infante added an RBI single in the sixth. Deduno, making his season debut, took the loss, giving up six earned runs over 5⅓ innings.
The Twins left Comerica Park relieved that they weren’t no-hit — but Mauer’s single couldn’t wipe out a losing streak.
‘‘That’s just kind of how it’s been going,’’ Mauer said. ‘‘The ball hasn’t been bouncing our way very well. And when they are throwing the ball like he did [Friday], it’s tough. You have to try to stay positive and come back tomorrow and tomorrow is a new day.’’