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Unlikely duo delivers for Twins

Unlikely duo delivers for Twins

DETROIT -- Carlos Silva hadn't been in the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park but a few minutes on Monday afternoon when he had a surprise visitor at his locker: Matthew LeCroy.

"He turned to me and said, 'Did you see the lineup today?' And I say, 'No. Why? Are you catching today?'" Silva said with a laugh.

LeCroy's catching skills had become a source of fodder for he and his teammates. But while LeCroy does not possess the best skills behind the plate, he showed why he still can be a big asset for a team that has been hindered by injuries at the catching position.

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Making his first big league start behind the plate in a little more than a year, LeCroy helped call a game in which Silva pitched 7 2/3 solid innings and the Twins defeated the Tigers, 2-0, at Comerica Park.

Silva's gone through his share of different catchers this season, but the way the two paired in this contest, it wouldn't be surprising to see LeCroy behind the plate for Silva's final start of the year in Boston.

"Carlos and Matt LeCroy teamed up to have a very, very good night back there," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Carlos was getting a lot of sinkers, and Matty did a super job behind the plate, moving him in and out. The boys were pretty excited about that."

Silva's turn around this season has been one of the most positive stories for a team that is struggling to get back to the .500 mark.

Coming off a season in which he fought to find any sort of consistency and his position on the team was put into question, Silva has delivered quality starts in 19 of his 32 outings. And much of the credit has been given to him adding a pitch to his repertoire.

Despite the fact that 15 of Silva's outs on the night came on ground balls, thanks in large part to his sinker, it was Silva's new changeup that his catcher felt was most crucial to his success.

"I'd always known him as a one-pitch pitcher and he also had a little breaking ball," LeCroy said. "But now with that changeup, it acts like a splitty. It's a little slower, and guys are expecting the sinker, so when they start cheating, he throws the changeup and gets them. Add that to a sinker like he has and you can go through some good lineups."

"With one pitch, you aren't going to survive on this level," Silva added.

Silva was able to hold down a difficult Tigers lineup, allowing just six hits while not issuing a walk. He struck out only one batter, but he made key pitches when needed.

For as well as Silva pitched, he needed some help from his offense because he nearly was matched by Tigers starter Nate Robertson. The Detroit lefty held the Twins to just three hits over seven innings. But along with his six strikeouts, Robertson also issued four walks.

It was one of those four walks that proved very costly for Robertson. Michael Cuddyer led off the second inning and worked through a six-pitch at-bat to draw the free pass.

Two outs later, and with Cuddyer having advanced to second base, Nick Punto delivered a clutch single to left field that scored Cuddyer and gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.

That run would be the only one on the board until the top half of the ninth inning.

The Twins added a run in the ninth on a two-out RBI single by Jason Kubel off Tigers reliever Fernando Rodney. It extended what has been a strong second half for Kubel. The outfielder/DH is hitting .299 with 14 doubles over his last 51 games.

Joe Nathan pitched the ninth to pick up his 35th save of the season.

Monday's victory also improved the club's record to 77-79 on the season. With six games remaining, the Twins have to win at least four to prevent their first losing season since 2000.

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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