DETROIT -- Kyle Gibson and two relievers made Eduardo Escobar's third-inning home run stand up Friday night in a 2-0 victory by the Minnesota Twins that was the free-falling Detroit Tigers' 17th loss in 24 games.
The right-handed Gibson (6-5) allowed five hits, walked two and struck out three in turning in his second straight start of seven shutout innings.
Right-hander Casey Fien worked a scoreless eighth and lefty Glen Perkins earned his 17th save with a run-free ninth.
Southpaw Drew Smyly, on his 25th birthday, allowed just four hits in six innings but fell to 3-5 due to the one bad pitch and Detroit's inability to cash in on its few scoring chances. The Tigers had just nine baserunners and are in danger of ceding first place in the American League Central for the first time this season by the time the weekend is over.
Tigers' closer Joe Nathan, who hadn't pitched since Saturday and has been largely ineffective lately, walked in an unearned insurance run for Minnesota with two out in the ninth. He walked two batters and hit one two outs after a throwing error by rookie shortstop Eugenio Suarez put left fielder Josh Willingham on to open the inning.
Detroit loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but Gibson got first baseman Miguel Cabrera to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.
Escobar latched onto a hanging 1-2 breaking ball from Smyly to open the third inning and drove it over the fence in left, his second home run of the season, to break a scoreless tie.
Minnesota went on to load the bases on two walks and a single with one out but failed to score when Smyly struck out designated hitter Kendry Morales and got right fielder Oswaldo Arcia to pop out to short.
NOTES: Twins CF Aaron Hicks was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday with a right shoulder strain and OF Sam Fuld was recalled from a rehab assignment to take his roster spot. C Eric Fryer was recalled from Triple-A Rochester to take the spot of C Josmil Pinto, who was optioned out Wednesday. ... Tigers RHP Luke Putkonen underwent successful surgery Thursday to remove a posterior osteophyte from his right elbow. He will be re-evaluated after 6-8 weeks of rest and rehab. ... Twins 2B Brian Dozier was held out of Friday night's game at Detroit because of a sore back. He collided with SS Eduardo Nunez on Wednesday while trying to catch a pop fly. ... Detroit LF Andy Dirks, out since spring training after undergoing back surgery, took some "live swings" for the first time Friday, but no timetable is set for a return.