DETROIT -- With the Tigers' biggest star out of the lineup, Max Scherzer pitched like one himself.
Scherzer allowed three hits in a season-high eight innings and late substitute Don Kelly got Detroit's offense going Friday night in a 7-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer and the Tigers opened their homestand with a win despite playing without slugger Miguel Cabrera, a late scratch from the lineup due to lower back tightness.
"I was executing with my fastball," Scherzer said. "I was really pitching in well tonight and I think that's what allowed me to have a lot of success."
Kelly, filling in at first base for Cabrera, doubled in Detroit's first two runs in the second inning and Austin Jackson followed with a two-run single. Brennan Boesch added an RBI single in the fifth to chase Mariners starter Doug Fister (3-4). Damon hit his fourth homer of the season off Sean White in the seventh.
It was more than enough support for Scherzer (5-6), who struck out seven and walked two. The only run he allowed came on Franklin Gutierrez's homer in the second.
The Mariners got only two runners to second base after Gutierrez's homer.
"Tip your hat to Scherzer," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said. "His changeup was outstanding. Nothing happened offensively other than the home run."
The right-hander hadn't gone longer than 7 1/3 innings this season. Phil Coke worked a scoreless ninth.
Fister, making his second start since a stint on the disabled list for shoulder fatigue, gave up all five of his runs with two outs.
"I got away from my strengths and left the ball in the zone and it hurt me," said Fister, who is 0-1 with a 9.35 ERA in two starts since returning to the team.
The Mariners, last in the AL West, came to Detroit after having won two of three at Yankee Stadium. Gutierrez didn't start Thursday against the New York Yankees because of flulike symptoms. He entered that game in the seventh as a pinch-hitter.
Detroit remained a game behind first-place Minnesota in the AL Central.
Cabrera began the day tied for the major league lead with 20 homers and 68 RBI. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Cabrera's condition was not serious but wouldn't say if the first baseman would return to the lineup Saturday night.
The Tigers improved to 26-11 at Comerica Park but Leyland said improving on the road, where the club is just 16-25, will be a priority after the All-Star break.
"It's always nice to be home, but we've got to win games on the road," he said. "We've got to do a better job in the second half, so that's going to be important."
Detroit recalled LHP Daniel Schlereth from Triple-A Toledo before the game. ... Fister was hit on the heel by Magglio Ordonez's line drive in the fifth but remained in the game and faced another batter before being replaced. ... Groundskeepers tamped and added dirt to the front of the mound in the seventh after White complained of poor footing.