DETROIT, OCT. 11 -- The Minnesota Twins moved within a game of their first pennant in 22 years tonight with a 5-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers before 51,939 at Tiger Stadium.

When it finally ended, after seven pitchers, a crucial pickoff, four errors and 20 runners left on base, the Twins were on the threshold of realizing a dream.

Their victory in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series gave them a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series, and they now have three chances to move the World Series indoors for the first time.

The Twins will go for the clincher here at 3 p.m. Monday when they send Game 2 starter Bert Blyleven against Doyle Alexander. But even if they don't win Monday, they'll have two chances in the Metrodome, where they've been overpowering (58-25).

"I don't know if I can describe my feelings," Twins second baseman Steve Lombardozzi said. "It's got to be the biggest thrill ever. To come this close with a chance to do it at Tiger Stadium . . . It would be a dream come true."

In the other clubhouse, they realized that. Manager Sparky Anderson was asked about his team rallying from 3 1/2 games down to take the AL East and said, yes, this would be harder.

"This is worse," he said. "This is getting close to Thousand Oaks {the Los Angeles suburb that is his winter home}."

The Twins got a lot of big and small performances, not all of them their own. Detroit's Darrell Evans made three mistakes that were responsible for two runs, and an error by Detroit right fielder Larry Herndon let another run score.

Twins shortstop Greg Gagne homered and scored two runs, and center fielder Kirby Puckett broke from a two-for-13 slump with a home run and two runs. The Twins scored the winning run on pinch hitter Gene Larkin's single in the seventh and added an insurance run on Lombardozzi's single in the eighth.

They also got 2 1/3 no-hit innings from Juan Berenguer and a scoreless ninth from Saturday's goat, Jeff Reardon.

If it was a victory that could be forever etched into the hearts and souls of the people from Lake Wobegon country, it was a nightmarish defeat for the Tigers.

The team that had the best record in the major leagues (98-64) and was heavily favored to win its second pennant in four years all but self-destructed tonight. If it loses this series, it can point to Evans' inexcusably getting picked off third in the sixth inning, just before Berenguer threw a wild pitch. It can point to Evans, playing third base for the first time since Sept. 20, making two errors and failing to field a hit.

It can point to nine runners left on base, including five on second or third.

"I think the pickoff was the turning point of the game," Anderson said. But he defended moving Evans to third, saying: "I never worry about defense when we're losing." At the time, he was trying to keep Dave Bergman's bat in the game.

Evans, professional as always, made no excuses.

"I just got too far off," he said. "I was trying to be aggressive. I don't know if it was a set play or a pitchout."

So Monday, Twins Manager Tom Kelly will gamble that Blyleven will be effective on three days' rest. It will be his fourth start on such rest, and in his other three he has gone 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA.

Twins starter Frank Viola got the victory, but he was hit hard again, allowing two earned runs on five hits and four walks in five innings. But after reliever Keith Atherton was ineffective, Berenguer and Reardon strung together 3 2/3 shutout innings.

Detroit's Frank Tanana pitched 5 1/3 innings and was hit hard, allowing six hits, four walks and three earned runs. He hit three batsmen and threw a wild pitch.

Both pitchers struggled early, but after two innings the only run was Detroit's, that coming on Gagne's error. After the error, Viola retired 12 in a row until Lou Whitaker's two-out walk in the fifth.

By then, the Twins led, 3-1. Puckett homered in the third to tie it 1-1, and an inning later Gagne homered.

"He'd thrown me a first-pitch fastball," Gagne said, "and I anticipated another. He threw me a change-up, and I was able to adjust."

The Tigers gave the Twins a run in the fifth when Puckett led off with a single and went to third when the ball skipped past Herndon to the wall. Gary Gaetti's fly made it 3-1.

The Tigers got a run in the fifth but will remember the three runners they didn't get home. With two outs, Viola walked Whitaker. Jim Morrison singled to left, and Kirk Gibson singled off second baseman Al Newman's glove to score Whitaker. He then fell behind Herndon, 3-1, but got him on a line drive to Gaetti at third.

The Twins got that run right back when they knocked out Tanana in the sixth. Gagne led off with a double down the left field line, and Tanana wild-pitched him to third. Tim Laudner grounded to Tom Brookens at third, but Tanana hit Dan Gladden. Gene Larkin batted for Newman and doubled to left to score Gagne.

But with runners at second and third with one out, reliever Dan Petry came in and got Puckett and Gaetti on grounders.

Viola left after Chet Lemon and Evans led off the sixth with singles. Lemon went to third on Evans' hit, and Kelly brought in Atherton, who allowed pinch hitter Bergman an RBI single. Mike Heath sacrificed, and Kelly brought in Berenguer.

Evans then made a big mistake, drifting too far off third and getting picked off by catcher Tim Laudner.

"It was our biggest play," Laudner said. "Gary and I have a predetermined signal. If he feels he's got an out down there, I'll throw it."

It cost the Tigers a run because Berenguer threw a wild pitch. All it did was get Bergman to third.

With one out in the eighth, Evans booted Laudner's grounder at third. Petry then wild-pitched Laudner to second, and Gladden's grounder sent him to third. He scored when Lombardozzi grounded a single under Evans' glove.

"He got behind me and had to throw a fastball," Lombardozzi said. "I was looking for a fastball because, with Kirby behind me, I knew he didn't want to walk me."

Had Morrison or Brookens been at third, the ball probably would have been caught.

By then Berenguer and Reardon were in control. After leaving Bergman on third in the sixth, no other Tiger got into scoring position.