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Tigers bats awaken just in time to cut Sox lead to two games

By Scott Miller | Senior Baseball Columnist

CHICAGO -- So ... slump over?

Got hits? Got homers?

For the first time since last Wednesday, the Tigers won a game.

They did it the old fashioned way, slamming two homers (hello, Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera) and punching out 10 hits in a 5-3 win.

Jackson thought the Tigers were "more relaxed" Tuesday, for whatever reason. Sure would seem the opposite for them, dragging a four-game losing streak into the evening and trailing the White Sox by three games.

Manager Jim Leyland thought the Tigers were more "loosey-goosey" beginning in the fifth, when Jackson thwacked a two-run homer, his 14th of the season, and Miguel Cabrera thumped a solo homer two batters later, his 36th.

"I think it relaxed everybody when we got on the board," Leyland said. "We got that three spot, and the way Dougie [Fister] was pitching some quick innings. That was a good tonic."

Imagine, timely hitting and crisp pitching. It's a combination they haven't had much of in Detroit for several games. The five runs were a veritable avalanche for the Tigers, who had scored only 17 in their previous seven games.

"We had some combinations going," Leyland said. "We did the things that usually add up to a win."

They've gotten the pitching that usually adds up to a win more often than not. Since Aug. 21, Tigers starters had a 2.87 ERA, 112 strikeouts and were limiting opponents to a .237 batting average. Tigers starters ranked fourth in the American League with 79 quality starts.

And yet. ...

Maybe with Tuesday's game, their beefy offense will begin eliminating the "and yet" part of it.

With red-hot Max Scherzer starting Wednesday followed by a rested Justin Verlander on Thursday -- remember, Leyland removed him from Saturday's start in Anaheim before he reached 100 pitches -- the Tigers have their pitching lined up exactly how they want it.

"Tomorrow, it'll be either one or three," Leyland said, meaning the Tigers will either chop Chicago's AL Central lead to one game or, with a loss, fall back to three. "That's just the way it is."

He grinned as he said it, flashing the giddiness that September baseball brings, if you're in the right spot.

Right now, Chicago definitely is the right spot.

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