There haven’t been any stress-free games yet for first-year manager Brad Ausmus, no matter how far the Tigers get ahead.

On Friday night, the Tigers led the Twins by nine runs in the sixth inning. Things were so tight by the eighth that Ausmus was ready to bring in Joe Nathan with two out in the inning to try for his first four-out save as a Tiger.

It didn’t quite come to that, and the Tigers beat the Twins, 10-6, at Target Field.

Before Friday night, there had been three games this season where the Tigers had taken a lead of at least five runs by mid-game. The Tigers won all three games, but not before some part of the bullpen ruptured, twice to the extent that the other team was within one swing of tying the game.

Friday night, the bullpen took over an eight-run lead with none out in the sixth. With one out in the eighth, the Twins had come back far enough to have the potential tying run on deck.

Joba Chamberlain entered and got the next two hitters, each on a 3-1 pitch. If either or both of those hitters had reached base, then Nathan would have been in the game to face power threat Brian Dozier as he represented either the tying or go-ahead run. Dozier’s seventh homer of the season started the Twins’ comeback in the sixth.

Nathan took over for the ninth with the four-run lead and retired Dozier to begin an uneventful, scoreless outing.

Ausmus used five of his seven relievers: Justin Miller, Ian Krol, Evan Reed, Chamberlain and Nathan. He said he was trying to stay away from Al Alburquerque, who pitched an inning on Thursday. Phil Coke, who gave up three runs in his last outing, didn’t warm up.

“It became all-hands-on-deck,” Ausmus said. “If I’d had to use Alburquerque, I would have. The way the momentum of the game had shifted . . . I don’t want to make a habit of bringing Joe in (during) four-run games, but I felt the way momentum shifted, we needed to close the door. If there is a four-run save, that would be it.”

So if Nathan had entered for a four-run lead, Ausmus was asked, would that have been because when you lead 10-1, you have to win the game?

“You can’t lose games when it’s 10-1,” Ausmus said. “You can’t let those games slip away, especially when playing within the division.”

If the Twins had won Friday night, they would have caught the Tigers for first place in the AL Central at this early juncture.

The Tigers scored seven runs in the third inning, and Rick Porcello cruised into the sixth with the 10-1 lead. He never got another out. He exited two batters after Ausmus and athletic trainer Kevin Rand came to the mount to check on him. In the second inning, a line drive had hit his glove and then, said Ausmus, deflected off his pitching elbow.

“He said he was fine,” Ausmus said of the sixth-inning mound visit.

Ausmus said he expected Porcello to make his next scheduled start, Wednesday in Chicago.

One inning before Porcello left, catcher Alex Avila exited with what the club termed a bruised left shin. His status was given as “day to day.”