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Inge knocks homer in ninth off Valverde to lift Tigers over Astros

CBSSports.com wire reports
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HOUSTON -- Brandon Inge knew what pitch was coming, and he salvaged the Detroit Tigers' final game in Houston with a single swing.

Inge hit a two-run homer off Jose Valverde with two outs in the ninth inning and the Tigers averted a sweep with a 4-3 win over the Astros on Sunday.

Kaz Matsui's RBI double off Edwin Jackson in the seventh gave Houston a 3-2 lead.

Tim Byrdak retired two batters in relief of Russ Ortiz in the eighth and Valverde (0-2) started the ninth, looking for his seventh save. Placido Polanco and Miguel Cabrera each flied out before Valverde walked Marcus Thames, an at-bat that Inge watched carefully.

When Valverde missed the strike zone with his first pitch to him, Inge correctly guessed that a straight fastball was coming next. He promptly drove the pitch over the left-field wall for his 18th home run to give Detroit its first lead.

"I noticed he walked Marcus with a split-finger [fastball], and threw me a first-pitch split-finger," Inge said. "I thought, I don't think he wants to fall behind both guys. I just tried to stay on the fastball and be aggressive with it."

Valverde has blown four saves in 10 appearances this season.

"I had no idea what happened," Valverde said. "This guy's a good hitter. There's nothing I can do. I throw that pitch and he hit it."

Bobby Seay (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Jackson, and Fernando Rodney shut out Houston in the ninth to stay perfect in 17 save opportunities.

Thanks to Inge, the Tigers feel a lot better heading to Oakland for a three-game series starting Monday. They play three games in Minnesota at the end of the week.

"To start off a road trip with a sweep against you, that's not how you want to do it," Inge said. "This is a big one, just to get us started in the right direction."

Curtis Granderson added a solo homer for the Tigers, who improved to 5-3 in the last eight games Jackson has started. Jackson came in with the AL's second-best ERA (2.40), behind Kansas City's Zack Greinke, and was as happy as anyone in the dugout when Inge homered.

"It's more for the team than for me," Jackson said. "A swing like that definitely gives us confidence going into the next series."

Jackson allowed only one hit through the first four innings, but the Tigers grounded into two early double plays. Detroit averaged only three runs in Jackson's previous seven starts.

Michael Bourn led off the Astros fourth with a triple to right-center. Jackson hit Jeff Keppinger with a pitch before Bourn scored on Lance Berkman's sacrifice fly to put Houston ahead 1-0.

Carlos Lee singled and one out later, Hunter Pence doubled down the left-field line. Keppinger and Lee scored, but a fan reached out of the stands and touched the ball. Lee's run was nullified and umpires ordered him to return to third base. Jackson struck out Ivan Rodriguez to end the inning and keep the score 2-0.

Inge beat out an infield single in the fifth and scored on Gerald Laird's double to left center. Laird was back in the lineup after leaving in the first inning of Saturday night's game with back spasms.

Granderson tied it in the sixth, driving a 1-1 pitch from Ortiz into the right-field seats for his 18th homer of the season. The Tigers have homered in 12 consecutive games, matching their longest streak since Sept. 4-17, 1999.

Geoff Blum, activated from the disabled list before the game, was hit by a pitch leading off the bottom of the seventh. Two outs later, Matsui doubled and Blum scored to give the Astros a 3-2 lead.

Ortiz retired Adam Everett leading off the eighth before he was replaced by Byrdak. The left-hander struck out the two batters he faced, not allowing a run for the 15th time in his last 18 appearances.

Notes

  • Ortiz made his 300th career appearance.
  • Detroit placed left-hander Nate Robertson on the 15-day disabled list with a mass in his left elbow. To take his place on the roster, the Tigers purchased the contract of left-hander Fu-Te Ni from Triple-A Toledo. He was 3-0 with a 2.60 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 24 appearances.
 
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Brandon Inge slams a 1-0 pitch to left field for his 18th home run of the season.  (AP)
Brandon Inge slams a 1-0 pitch to left field for his 18th home run of the season. (AP)

Players of the Game
Detroit

B. Inge
AB 4
R 2
H 2
HR 1
RBI 2
Detroit

C. Granderson
AB 4
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 1
 

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Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF4131010 .263
Placido Polanco, 2B3010001 .260
Miguel Cabrera, 1B4000012 .331
Marcus Thames, LF3000111 .265
    Josh Anderson, PR-LF0100000 .257
Brandon Inge, 3B4222000 .274
Magglio Ordonez, RF4000021 .265
Gerald Laird, C3011000 .234
Adam Everett, SS3000001 .262
Edwin Jackson, P2000020 .000
   a- Don Kelly, PH0000000 .294
   b- Ryan Raburn, PH1000010 .250
    Bobby Seay, P0000000 .000
    Fernando Rodney, P0000000 .000
Totals3147418  
a-announced for Jackson in the 8th
b-struck out for Kelly in the 8th
Batting
2B - Gerald Laird (9, Ortiz)
HR - Curtis Granderson (18, Ortiz), Brandon Inge (18, Valverde)
RBI - Curtis Granderson (43), Brandon Inge 2 (51), Gerald Laird (18)
2-OUT RBI - Brandon Inge 2 (18), Gerald Laird (4)
CS - Curtis Granderson (4, 2nd base by Ortiz/Rodriguez)
Team LOB - 2
Fielding
DP - Everett-Cabrera
Detroit Tigers
Edwin Jackson 7533050 2.49
Bobby Seay (W,1-1) 1000000 3.38
Fernando Rodney (S,17) 1100000 3.94
HBP - Keppinger (by Edwin Jackson), Blum (by Edwin Jackson)
Pitches-Strikes - Edwin Jackson 98-67, Bobby Seay 11-6, Fernando Rodney 15-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Edwin Jackson 5-10, Bobby Seay 2-1, Fernando Rodney 2-1
Batters Faced - Edwin Jackson 27, Bobby Seay 3, Fernando Rodney 4
Houston Astros
Michael Bourn, CF4110010 .300
Jeff Keppinger, SS3110000 .257
Lance Berkman, 1B3001011 .252
Carlos Lee, LF3010000 .299
    Darin Erstad, LF0000000 .158
   a- Matt Kata, PH1000000 .231
Geoff Blum, 3B3110002 .271
    Jason Michaels, PR0000000 .179
Hunter Pence, RF4011012 .316
Ivan Rodriguez, C4000014 .249
Kazuo Matsui, 2B3011000 .247
Russ Ortiz, P3000011 .200
    Tim Byrdak, P0000000 .000
    Jose Valverde, P0000000 .000
Totals3136305  
a-grounded out for Erstad in the 9th
Batting
2B - Hunter Pence (15, Jackson), Kazuo Matsui (8, Jackson)
3B - Michael Bourn (6, Jackson)
SF - Lance Berkman (4)
RBI - Lance Berkman (45), Hunter Pence (32), Kazuo Matsui (17)
2-OUT RBI - Hunter Pence (12), Kazuo Matsui (7)
Team LOB - 4
Fielding
DP - Blum-Matsui-Berkman, Blum-Matsui-Berkman
Houston Astros
Russ Ortiz 7.1622051 3.36
Tim Byrdak (H,5) 0.2000020 3.46
Jose Valverde (BS,4; L,0-2) 1122111 3.86
HBP - Polanco (by Russ Ortiz)
Pitches-Strikes - Russ Ortiz 91-62, Tim Byrdak 8-6, Jose Valverde 18-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Russ Ortiz 7-7
Batters Faced - Russ Ortiz 26, Tim Byrdak 2, Jose Valverde 5
Game Information
Attendance - 34041
Game Time - 2:31
Temperature - 73
Umpires - Home - James Hoye, First Base - Bill Welke, Second Base - Jim Reynolds, Third Base - Tim Welke