Liriano stumbles and Twins fall to Tigers 10-2

The follow-up to Francisco Liriano’s no-hitter was a flop.

Flop is also a succinct way to sum up the 2011 season so far for the Minnesota Twins.

Victor Martinez had three hits and four RBIs to push the Detroit Tigers past Liriano and the Twins for a 10-2 rain-delayed victory on Tuesday night.

“It’s not very fun right now,” said designated hitter Jason Kubel.

Jhonny Peralta’s two-run homer in the second inning ended Liriano’s bid for back-to-back no-hitters, and the left-hander’s outing was over after three innings due to a lingering illness. He was bothered by flulike symptoms last week.

The Johnny Vander Meer jokes and references stopped soon after Liriano (2-5) took the mound on this muggy, 87-degree night. Manager Ron Gardenhire said the heat bothered Liriano so much that he had trouble catching his breath.

“I guess this is still the same thing he was dehydrated from,” Gardenhire said.

Rick Porcello (3-2) pitched five crisp innings for the Tigers, allowing one run and three hits. Rene Tosoni hit his first career homer for the Twins, but they managed only five hits. Their majors-worst record fell to 12-22.

They’re 11 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central standings.

“I can’t really worry about what Cleveland’s doing right now. We’re having enough issues with ourselves,” Gardenhire said.

Liriano got the first four outs, but after a walk to Martinez, he left a fastball over the plate for Peralta to smash into the left-field seats and make it 2-0.

Then in the third inning, Liriano had trouble even putting one of his intentional-walk pitches to Miguel Cabrera in the right place. His pitching coach, manager and athletic trainer all paid a visit.

After a warmup, Liriano stayed on the mound – and promptly served up a sharp two-run single to Martinez to stretch the lead to four. Brian Duensing, whose last start was limited to two innings by a rain delay, came out of the bullpen for the fourth, and the weather became dangerous in the bottom of the frame.

With the darkened sky drenching downtown Minneapolis, hail as big as golf balls began to drop. Some of the more daring fans stayed in the seats to capture the storm on camera and playfully toss ice chunks at each other to pass the time. Some Twins players, standing in the dugout, tried to catch the hail in their mouths.

As the grounds crew used a riding blower and rakes to clear the ice off the grass, Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander – apparently relaxed by his no-hitter over the weekend – picked up a bat and took a few swings while teammate Phil Coke tossed him some hail balls.

The delay lasted 64 minutes.

It provided some gallows humor, at least, on another frustrating night at the ballpark.

“It makes perfect sense. Why not?” Kubel said.

Liriano’s feat, becoming less rare in this pitching-rules era, has been about the only celebratory moment for Minnesota as the quarter mark of this season approaches. The crowd cheered as highlights from last week’s no-hitter were shown on the videoboard before the game, but the bounce the Twins hoped to get from that didn’t happen.

Liriano reverted to the rough form he’s shown in almost every other start, and the Tigers took advantage. He allowed three hits, walked three and struck out one.

Vander Meer is still the only major leaguer ever to throw a no-hitter in consecutive starts, accomplishing the feat with the Cincinnati Reds in 1938.

Tosoni’s towering home run to right was the only blemish on an 83-pitch performance that included two walks. Porcello won his third straight decision, with just seven runs allowed in 31 2-3 innings over his last five starts.

NOTES: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said he hoped to have LF Delmon Young back for Friday’s game. Young is playing in extended spring training games in Florida, recovering from a strained left oblique muscle that’s kept him out for the last 18 games. … Tosoni, a native of Canada, was called up two weeks ago. He had three homers this season for Triple-A Rochester. … The Twins are 0-16 this year when being out-hit by their opponents. … Duensing’s next start has been pushed back from Friday to Sunday, with Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn each moving up a day in the rotation. … The Twins are last in the league in scoring by 22 runs.