October 12, 2011 in Sports

Fister pitches Tigers past Rangers 5-2 in Game 3

Noah Trister Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera drove in two of Detroit’s five runs, including a seventh-inning solo home run (pictured).
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

A.L. championship series

Tigers vs. Rangers

Texas leads series 2-1

Game 1: Texas 3, Detroit 2

Game 2: Texas 7, Detroit 3 (11)

Game 3: Detroit 5, Texas 2

Today: Texas (Harrison 14-9) at Detroit (Porcello 14-9), 1:19 p.m.

x-Thursday: Texas at Detroit, 1:19

x-Saturday: Detroit at Texas, 5:05

x-Sunday: Detroit at Texas, 5:05

All games PDT and TV: Fox 28; x-if necessary

DETROIT – Doug Fister shook off a frustrating first inning and Victor Martinez hurt himself while hitting a tying home run.

The banged-up Detroit Tigers are teetering but still standing, and now they have a chance to even the A.L. championship series.

Fister delivered another strong start in a game Detroit needed and Miguel Cabrera homered and hit a tiebreaking double to lead the Tigers past the Texas Rangers 5-2 Tuesday night in Game 3.

“In and out, moving the ball around, moving the ball both sides of the plate,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “I thought it was a pitching clinic.”

Detroit dropped the first two games in Texas before turning to Fister, who won the decisive fifth game of the division series at Yankee Stadium last week. He was sharp again, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks in 7 1/3 innings.

Martinez homered in the fourth to tie the score at 1, then stayed in the game after an injury to his ribcage.

“You know what? This is us,” Leyland said. “We are what we are. We’ve been doing this for the whole year, and we’re going to either win this thing or go down with what we got.”

Jose Valverde, after tossing a season-high two innings the day before, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth for his third playoff save. He got some help from Cabrera, who made a diving play at first base.

Game 4 is this afternoon. Matt Harrison starts for Texas against Rick Porcello – both went 14-9 this season.

“It’s going to be a long series,” Cabrera said. “Nobody (said) it’s going to be easy. You’ve got to be patient.”

Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre fouled a ball off his left knee in the fourth and hobbled the rest of the night. X-rays were negative. He has a bruise. Texas manager Ron Washington said the team would know more today.

Cabrera’s double in the fifth put the Tigers ahead 2-1 and he added a towering solo homer in the seventh.

Jhonny Peralta also went deep for the Tigers. Austin Jackson broke out of his postseason slump with three hits, including an RBI single.

Texas right-hander Colby Lewis, who entered 4-0 in five postseason starts, allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.

“He throws strikes and every now and then he’s going to give up some long balls. I thought it was a pretty good ballgame,” Washington said. “He kept us in the ballgame. It was Fister that did the job out there tonight.”

Stung by Nelson Cruz’s game-ending grand slam Monday, the Tigers returned home hoping to shake out of their offensive funk. They fell behind 1-0 when Fister allowed three consecutive singles to start the game, but the right-hander held the Rangers in check after that, even striking out Cruz to end the seventh as the towel-waving crowd at Comerica Park roared its approval.

After leaving 22 runners on base in the first two games, the Tigers struggled again early on against Lewis. Detroit had two on with one out in the second, but Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn both struck out.

Lewis struck out five in the first three innings, but Martinez led off the fourth with a homer to right to tie it at 1.

Martinez, who hit .330 this season despite groin, knee and back problems, appeared to hurt himself on his home run swing, laboring slowly around the bases after the ball cleared the fence. When he returned to the dugout, his head still down, he slammed his helmet down as he descended the steps toward the clubhouse.

Detroit was already playing without injured outfielders Delmon Young, Magglio Ordonez and Brennan Boesch, and it wasn’t clear whether Martinez – the designated hitter – would be able to continue. But he was back in the fifth, standing near the on-deck circle with Cabrera at the plate.

With runners at first and third and two outs, Texas decided to pitch to Cabrera, and his line drive down the right-field line on an 0-2 count stayed fair for a double to drive in a run.

“I’m not going to take another runner and put him at second base. The winning run is already at third base,” Washington said. “We tried to make a pitch. Colby didn’t get it there. Cabrera caught it.”

Martinez drew a walk, loading the bases for Don Kelly, who hit a check-swing grounder to third. Beltre fielded the ball, then paused and waited to tag Cabrera. When the Detroit baserunner froze in his tracks, Beltre finally backpedaled toward the bag for the force to end the inning.

Detroit added two runs in the sixth. Peralta led off with a homer, and Jackson’s RBI single made it 4-1. It was an encouraging night for Jackson, who entered 3 for 25 in the postseason with 14 strikeouts.

Cabrera’s homer in the seventh was his second of the playoffs.

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