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Clark Helps Tigers Tame Twins

Tony Clark showed off his switch-hitting power at the expense of the Minnesota Twins.

Clark homered from both sides of the plate in a game for the second time in his career as the Detroit Tigers beat the Twins 6-2 on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-7 first baseman hit a solo homer batting right-handed off Twins starter Eric Milton in the fourth inning and added a three-run shot from the left side off Dan Naulty in the seventh.

"I'm just trying to put the ball in play," said Clark, who has 10 homers in his last 84 at-bats after hitting four in his first 162. "Earlier, I got into a rut where I was trying to hit everything 500 feet."

He has raised his batting average to .281 from a low of .217 in mid-May.

"He's been on a roll for the last month," Detroit manager Buddy Bell said. "A guy with that talent, a young guy who works that hard, always will succeed in the long run.

"At times he puts a little too much responsibility on himself, but that's natural with our team. But sometimes it does get a little heavy."

The Tigers took two of three from Minnesota, but have won just five of their last 17 games.

Todd Walker had three hits for the Twins, who had won six of their previous nine.

Bryce Florie (5-2) allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 1-3 innings for Detroit. He is 2-2 in four starts since joining the rotation after 24 relief appearances.

"I'm still trying to get used to going every fifth day," Florie said. "I had hoped in spring training I'd get a chance to start, and when I finally did I was delighted."

Florie moved into the rotation June 1.

"With the situation our rotation is in, he's given us a big lift," Bell said.

Milton (3-6) gave up three runs one earned on seven hits in six innings. He has not won in six starts since May 15.

"The last time I won was against the Yankees, and that was a long time ago," Milton said. It's got to come sooner or later. I feel like I've been pitching good. I took nothing bad from this game as far as how I threw."

Two Twins errors resulted in five unearned runs for Detroit.

"Milton did a good job," Twins manager Tom Kelly said. "If we make a couple of plays for him here and there we still be playing out there."

Detroit trailed 2-1 in the fifth when second baseman Walker dropped Deivi Cruz's popup behind first for a two-base error. Cruz took third on Brian Hunter's single and scored on Kimera Bartee's sacrifice fly. Bobby Higginson followed with an RBI triple to right-center.

Hunter reached on shortstop Pat Meares' one-out error in the seventh and stole second. After Bartee grounded out, Higginson was intentionally walked before Clark homered into the upper deck in right.

"It's a good feeling, but the best feeling is the time it came," Clark said. "We were just leading by a run."

The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the second when Matt Lawton scored on wild pitch. Clark tied it in the fourth with a line-drive homer to right-center.

"The ball he hit right-handed was incredible," Bell said. "That wasn't a big swing. He's just so strong."

Paul Molitor put Minnesota back in front with an RBI single in the fifth.

Notes: Clark's sixth multi-homer game of his career was his first since May 17, 1997, at Kansas City. He also homered from both sides April 5, 1997, at Chicago. ... Walker was 7-for-12 in the three-game series. ... Barring rainouts, Kerry Wood will pitch in Detroit next Thursday when the Chicago Cubs conclude a two-game series with the Tigers. ... Tigers outfielder Luis Gonzalez, who had three hits Wednesday, has played 92 straight games without an error. ... Lawton has hit in 15 of his last 17 games.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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