MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins only had four hits Saturday against the Detroit Tigers. Starting pitcher Phil Hughes made sure they didn't need any more.
The Twins took advantage of a wild Tiger bullpen, which walked five Minnesota hitters in the fifth inning, in a 5-3 victory over Detroit at sunny Target Field.
Hughes gave up two hits and two runs in the first inning, staking the Tigers to a 2-0 lead.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez appeared to be on his game early, but was forced to give way to the bullpen in the third inning because of a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand.
In the fifth, the Twins, still without a hit, took advantage.
Tigers reliever Jose Ortega walked the first two men he faced before Minnesota pushed their first run across on a throwing error by catcher Bryan Holaday. On a sacrifice bunt by shortstop Eduardo Escobar, Holaday's throw to third sailed into left field, allowing right fielder Sam Fuld to score.
Another walk loaded the bases and Ortega was lifted for Phil Coke, who walked first baseman Joe Mauer on four pitches, tying the game, 2-2.
"It's a tough spot; it's a tough spot for the entire bullpen," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We were a little bit strapped going into today as it was and then the injury strapped us even more. It was a tough spot, but we stayed in the game."
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe ripped a 3-and-1 pitch up the middle for a two-run single, Minnesota's first hit of the day, giving the Twins a 4-2 lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"We're just going up there trying to keep the line moving," Plouffe said. "The old saying, 'You're not going to hit a three-run homer with nobody on base,' so don't try. We did that again today. Just trying to make the pitchers work and get a pitch to hit."
After the rocky first inning, Hughes (2-1) was on cruise control, retiring 16 straight batters through the middle innings in his most effective start to date. He allowed two runs, one earned, over seven innings, striking out six and walking none in his second straight quality start.
"I was able to settle down pretty quick and get on a roll, which was nice," Hughes said. "I was able to get ahead of most of the guys and throw some decent cutters. My four-seamer was pretty good and I threw a couple breaking balls when I needed to."
Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: "We needed those innings and he gave them to us."
After being called up from Triple-A Toledo earlier in the day, Ortega took the loss. He was charged with all four runs in the fifth, and threw only 11 of his 36 pitches for strikes over 1 1/3 innings.
After walking in a run on the free pass to Mauer, Coke got a strikeout and a double play to work out of the fifth-inning jam. He went 2 2/3 innings, allowing two walks and two hits but no runs.
"He gave us some innings that were huge for our bullpen," Ausmus said. "We were in dire straits if Phil wasn't able to do that."
Trailing by two, the Tigers threatened against right-hander Jared Burton in the eighth inning, loading the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera. But Cabrera grounded to third, where Escobar stepped on the bag and fired to first for the 5-3 double play, ending the threat.
Twins catcher Josmil Pinto crushed a solo home run, his fifth of the season, in the bottom of the eighth to add an extra insurance run for closer Glen Perkins, who surrendered a solo shot to designated hitter Victor Martinez in the top of the ninth.
Perkins also allowed a double, but worked out of the jam for his sixth save in seven chances this season.
NOTES: The Twins entered the day with a major league-leading 113 walks. They drew eight more on Saturday. … Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning and later left because of a left triceps contusion. He is considered day-to-day. … Tigers catcher Alex Avila, who left the game Friday because of a shin contusion, pinch hit in the eighth inning and drew a walk. He stayed in the game behind the plate in the bottom half of the inning. … Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter had his second three-hit game of the season and has five consecutive multi-hit games against the Twins. ... The Tigers will send RHP Justin Verlander (3-1, 2.18 ERA) to the mound in Sunday's series finale against RHP Kyle Gibson (3-1, 3.63).