DETROIT (AP) ― Justin Verlander helped save Detroit’s season with a gutsy pitching effort as the Detroit Tigers recorded a 7-5 victory Thursday that cut the Texas Rangers’ lead to 3-2 in the American League championship series.
Delmon Young hit two of Detroit’s four homers and Miguel Cabrera had a tiebreaking double in the sixth inning ― thanks to a bizarre bounce off third base. “I have that bag in my office right now. And that will be in my memorabilia room at some point in my life, I can promise you,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
After building a five-run cushion, Detroit held on despite Nelson Cruz’s record fifth home run of the series. With closer Jose Valverde unavailable for the Tigers, Texas cut it to 7-5 in the ninth and had Cruz on deck when Phil Coke retired Mike Napoli on a game-ending groundout with two runners on.
Coke got five outs for his first career postseason save.
“Cokie came through for us,” Leyland said. “A little different situation for him, but he was up to the challenge.”
The Rangers get another chance to reach the World Series for the second straight season in Game 6 Saturday at home. Derek Holland will start for Texas against Max Scherzer.
A swift turn of events in the sixth helped Detroit pull ahead. The Tigers turned a bases-loaded double play to keep the score tied at 2-2, then opened the bottom half with a single, double, triple and homer ― in order ― to take a 6-2 lead. It was the first time four consecutive batters on one team hit for a “natural” cycle in a postseason game, according to STATS LLC.
The Rangers were the ones who seemed on the verge of breaking the game open in the sixth, loading the bases with one out. But then Ian Kinsler hit a grounder right to third baseman Brandon Inge, who merely had to step on the bag and throw to first for a double play.
In St. Louis, Milwaukee pitcher Randy Wolf outfoxed St. Louis for seven innings to earn his first postseason win at age 35, leading the Brewers to a win that squared the National League Championship Series at 2-2.
Ryan Braun got two hits for the Brewers, who notched their first road win in playoffs since the 1982 World Series opener. They had lost eight since.
Matt Holliday and Allen Craig homered for the Cardinals, representing their only runs in the past 16 innings.
Game 5 is Friday when Jaime Garcia will start for St. Louis against Milwaukee’s Zack Greinke.