DETROIT -- Joe Mauer highlighted a group of four players with two RBIs apiece as the Minnesota Twins improved their lead in the battle for the second American League wild-card spot with a 12-1 victory against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.
Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jason Castro also had two-RBI nights for Minnesota, which is 2 1/2 games ahead of the Los Angeles Angels. The Texas Rangers would pull into a tie with the Angels with a win against the Seattle Mariners late Thursday night.
Adalberto Mejia was pulled one out shy of lasting long enough to get credit for the victory, which went to Twins' reliever Dillon Gee (3-2) for his 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. Mejia struck out five and allowed one run on four hits and a walk in 4 2/3 innings.
Gee gave up a hit and struck out two. Ryan Pressly didn't give up a run in the seventh and eighth, and Matt Belisle completed the game with a scoreless ninth.
Robbie Grossman's bases-loaded sacrifice fly off reliever Myles Jaye in the seventh put the Twins ahead 8-1. Kepler's two-run double an inning later off Jaye gave Minnesota a 10-1 lead, a margin that went to 12-1 on Castro's double off reliever Zac Reininger over the left fielder's head in the same inning.
Mauer, who had three hits, doubled home two runs with a two-out liner over the left fielder's head off reliever Victor Alcantara in the sixth and scored on a hard line single off first baseman Miguel Cabrera's glove by Jorge Polanco to give Minnesota a 7-1 edge.
Eddie Rosario singled in a run with the bases loaded in the fifth off reliever Warwick Saupold to put the Twins up 4-1.
Minnesota took a 3-1 lead in the fourth off Jordan Zimmermann (8-13). Eduardo Escobar stroked a one-out RBI double to left and Buxton grounded a two-run single up the middle with two out.
Detroit struck first with a run in the third. Jose Iglesias doubled to right center and scored on a one-out double to extreme left by rookie Jeimer Candelario.
Zimmermann lasted four innings in his first start since Sept. 2, allowing three runs on five hits with a walk and four strikeouts. He had been sidelined due to neck and shoulder pain.
NOTES: Minnesota manager Paul Molitor is doubtful 3B Miguel Sano (left shin) will return by the end of the regular season. Sano has been out since Aug. 19. ... 3B Jeimer Candelario had three throwing errors in his first 19 games with Detroit, and manager Brad Ausmus feels they are mistakes that will be cured by experience. ... Twins RHP Bartolo Colon was bounced early in two of his past three starts, but Molitor is "expecting him to bounce back" in his next start Tuesday in Cleveland. ... Tigers RF Nicholas Castellanos went 0-for-4, ending his hitting streak at 17 games.