|Ryan Raburn gets some glove from Brandon Inge in a crucial win for Detroit [EPA]
The Detroit Tigers clawed themselves into contention for the Major League Baseball postseason by forcing a title playoff against Minnesota Twins.
With the Twins battering Kansas City Royals 13-4, the Tigers had to beat Chicago White Sox to stay level at the top of the American League Central on Sunday.
A defeat to the Sox would make them the only team in history to lose a title in the last week after being on top at the start of May.
But they ran out 5-3 winners at Comerica Park to set up a sudden-death match in Minneapolis on Tuesday – with the winners going through to a divisional playoff series against the New York Yankees.
Sunday's results left the Tigers and the Twins with identical 86-76 records.
Backs to the wall
"We had our backs totally up against the wall, and we won," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
"We still have a heck of a chance, obviously, to win this division."
The Tigers' Justin Verlander pitched seven-plus innings and gave up six hits and struck out five.
Ryan Raburn homered twice, the second a solo shot in the sixth giving Detroit a 5-0 lead before the White Sox scored three runs in the eighth off Verlander.
In Minneapolis, Jason Kubel hit two three-run homers for the Twins while Delmon Young added two solo home runs.
The Royals came within 8-4 in the sixth, but the Twins scored the game's final five runs.
Tuesday's winner will meet the AL East champions Yankees in the best-of-five divisional series starting on either Wednesday or Thursday in New York.
AL West champions the Los Angeles Angels will host the wildcard Boston Red Sox in the league's other playoff series with the opening date to be determined.
In the National League, the West champions Los Angeles Dodgers will host Central winners St Louis and wildcards Colorado will play at the East champions Philadelphia Phillies.
Both NL series are due to start on Wednesday.