MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Tigers closer Bruce Rondon is learning on the job, and he passed a major test on Tuesday night.

With the tying run on second base and Miguel Sano at the plate, Rondon went away from his fastball and fed the rookie slugger three sliders. Sano struck out swinging, and Detroit had a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Twins.

"(Pitching coach Jeff Jones) went out there to make sure he was OK to throw the slider, and if he was, then to use it," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Then he threw three of the best sliders I've seen him throw."

Victor Martinez and James McCann had three hits apiece for last-place Detroit, which had dropped four of five. Alfredo Simon (13-9) pitched into the seventh inning.

Despite the win, the Tigers (66-78) were officially eliminated in the AL Central after winning the division title each of the last four years.

Rondon retired his first two batters before walking Brian Dozier, who stole second and scored on Joe Mauer's double to the gap in left-center. That brought Sano to the plate, but Rondon closed it out for his fifth save in seven chances.

Sano has 16 homers since getting called up in early July. He had a two-run single in the seventh against Detroit.

"Any time he comes up to the plate, he's got a chance to hurt us," said McCann, who had a double and two singles. "We were going to make him hit Bruce's best pitch."

Minnesota (75-69) is contending for an AL wild card, but Phil Hughes (10-9) lasted just three innings in his return from a monthlong stint on the disabled list with a back injury.

Martinez and Nick Castellanos had consecutive RBI singles in the first, and Anthony Gose singled in McCann in the second.

Simon (13-9) had allowed at least five runs in three of his previous four outings and struggled to a 6.19 ERA on the road this season. But with Martinez providing the early run support, Simon yielded three runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.

"I just want to finish strong this year," Simon said. "They tell me to get ahead of the hitter and that helped me out today."

The Twins entered with the second-worst batting average in the majors since the All-Star break. They left six runners on base in the first four innings.

"Simon did a nice job, I thought, particularly with our leadoff hitters in the innings after the first inning," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "It makes it tougher to try and find ways to score."

DOUBLEHEADER ROTATION

The Tigers announced that Kyle Ryan and Randy Wolf will start in Monday's day-night doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park. The doubleheader was made necessary by a June 27 postponement.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez (rotator cuff strain) will see Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday after issues with his throwing shoulder flared up again during a bullpen session on Monday. Ausmus said the team believes Sanchez aggravated the original injury and the rotator cuff is not torn. ... Ausmus said INF Dixon Machado (left hamstring tightness) is feeling better but would be held out until Friday.

Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco (right ankle impingement) will throw in the bullpen on Wednesday. Nolasco has been on the disabled list since June 4 and is unlikely to pitch again this season. ... All-Star closer Glen Perkins (back spasms) is scheduled to throw another bullpen session on Wednesday. Perkins has been out since Sept. 1.

UP NEXT

Sanchez was expected to return Wednesday, but Detroit will turn to LHP Daniel Norris (2-2, 4.43 ERA) instead. Norris (right oblique strain) will come off the disabled list and make his first appearance since Aug. 19. Minnesota will start RHP Ervin Santana (5-4, 4.73 ERA), who has allowed just three runs in his last three starts, spanning 22 innings.