- Associated Press - Sunday, August 24, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The foray for Trevor May into major league duty has been difficult. The Minnesota Twins haven’t won any of his starts.

This one brought incremental progress, which the rookie right-hander will have to settle for.

Justin Verlander labored into the sixth inning, Nick Castellanos had two hits and two RBIs, and the Detroit Tigers salvaged a doubleheader split by beating the Minnesota Twins 8-6 Saturday night.

Torii Hunter and J.D. Martinez each had three of Detroit’s 17 hits, and Joe Nathan notched his 27th save in 32 attempts.

Verlander (11-11) improved to 5-0 in seven career starts at Target Field, though with their 12-4 loss to the Twins in the afternoon the Tigers dropped to a season-worst three games behind first-place Kansas City in the AL Central. They also fell to a game behind Seattle for the second wild card spot.

In the opener, Twins rookie Kennys Vargas drove in five runs, and starter Yohan Pino (2-5) struck out six in five innings.

May (0-3) had more trouble than his predecessor, even with a 4-2 lead after Trevor Plouffe’s two-run double in the third. In the sixth inning, after a strikeout to start, the right-hander’s first major league victory quickly sailed out of reach.

“Slightly better than last time,” said May, who didn’t issue a walk but gave up 11 hits and five runs.

Eugenio Suarez’s broken-bat, two-run single pushed the Tigers in front 5-4. Jared Burton was summoned from the bullpen after the longest of May’s four appearances since being called up at the beginning of the month.

“If you had to find any positives, that would be one,” May said. “Taking steps forward from here.”

The goal for next time and beyond?

“Just keeping the fastball out of the middle of the plate is the biggest thing. There were some times when they made me pay. You got to be able to make those pitches,” said May, whose ERA rose to 8.79.

Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire: “He’s got pitches, and now it’s just about locating the fastball a little bit better.”

After the Tigers gave up a total of 32 runs and 34 hits while throwing a whopping 398 pitches in losing the first two games of the series, they badly needed the old Verlander to come through in this one.

He wasn’t great, and he tired in the sixth inning, but he felt fine after missing his last turn due to shoulder soreness.

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