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Molitor Leads Twins' 7th Inning Stretch

Paul Molitor's 41-year-old legs can still make the big play.

Molitor's hustle on the basepaths helped set up Minnesota's key inning and the Twins went on to an 8-5 win over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night.

With the Twins leading 4-3 in the seventh, Molitor had a hit to center that would've ordinarily been a single. But he legged it into a double and, after Todd Walker was intentionally walked, Ron Coomer lined a three-run homer to give the Twins some cushion.

"That set up the inning," Kelly said of Molitor's play. "If he's on first it's a different inning. That's why he's a Hall of Fame player. He's still got it in him."

Molitor said he noticed the Tigers' outfielders were slow returning the ball to the infield when he singled to left in the third. It also helped that rain which delayed the start of the game and started falling again in the seventh slowed his hit down.

"I thought they were just lobbing the ball and didn't make a very strong throw," Molitor said. "I knew that if it happened again I'd try and take advantage of it."

Minnesota trailed 3-2 when one-out singles from Todd Walker and Coomer finished Tigers starter Denny Harriger (0-1) in the sixth. Sean Runyan walked Matt Lawton before Pat Meares singled home two runs off Tim Worrell to put the Twins ahead.

"Pat picked us up with the two-out base hit," Molitor said. "That was definitely the big hit in the game."

Kimera Bartee, who had a career-best four RBIs for the Tigers, hit a two-run homer off reliever Dan Serafini (3-0) in the seventh.

Brent Gates added an RBI single off Dean Crow in the eighth as the Twins won for the sixth time in their last nine games.

Serafini allowed two runs in 2 2-3 innings of relief for Twins starter Mike Morgan.

Rick Aguilera pitched the ninth for his 14th save.

The Tigers have lost 12 of 16.

Harriger, a 28-year-old right-hander making his major league debut after 11-plus minor league seasons, gave up four runs and six hits in 5 1-3 innings.

"After 12 years in the minors, I just wanted to go out and show what I'm capable of doing," Harriger said. "After the first inning I settled down and hit my spots. Then I knew I'd be all right.

"I just wanted to show I could pitch at this level. I wanted to keep the ball down and get some ground balls."

Harriger walked Otis Nixon and Gates to start the game. Nixon scored when shortstop Deivi Cruz threw wide of first trying to double up Molitor after a forceout. Singles by Marty Cordova and Todd Walker brought in Molitor to make it 2-0.

"I thought he did a very good job after the first inning," Bell said of Harriger. " He was quite nervous. The game was going quickly for him at first, then h settled down and threw strikes."

Bip Roberts hit a one-out single in the Tigers first but was pulled for Bartee when he didn't take third on Bobby Higginson's single to right. Roberts, who just came off the disabled list for the second time this season, slammed his helmet to the ground when he returned to the bench and appeared to have words with Buddy Bell.

"He gave me every reason to believe he wasn't (OK)," Bell said. "My job is to put us in position to score the run, and I didn't want to put him in a position where he'd reinjure himself."

Three straight one-out singles set up a bases-loaded walk to Hunter in the Detroit second. Bartee followed with a two-run single that put the Tigers up 3-2.

Notes: With the Red Wings playing for the Stanley Cup and rain in the area, the announced crowd was 8,493 the smallest at home this season. Those who did come were given vouchers for free tickets to the last home game. ... The start was delayed 1-hour, 22 minutes because of rain. ... Morgan allowed three runs and seven hits in four innings. ... The Tigers have been outscored 68-22 in the first inning this year.

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

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