DETROIT (AP) — Tigers slugger Victor Martinez has provided a boost with his bat this season.
Now he’s showing off his baserunning instincts, much to the amusement of his teammates.
Martinez scored on a wacky play at the plate, Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen each hit a two-run homer, and Detroit beat the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Martinez scored the game’s first run by sidestepping Kurt Suzuki’s tag, then lunging back with his arm to touch the plate.
“This game is all about having fun,” Martinez said.
After the game, a handful of Tigers watched from the clubhouse as Minnesota beat Cleveland with a ninth-inning rally, putting Detroit in a first-place tie with the Indians.
The Tigers trailed 3-1 before they grabbed control in the fifth against Guillermo Moscoso (3-5).
After Magglio Ordonez brought Detroit to within a run with a sacrifice fly, Cabrera hit his 20th homer of the season, putting the Tigers ahead to stay. Cabrera’s drive went an estimated 422 feet to left and gave him 600 career extra-base hits.
Martinez followed with a double, and Jhonny Peralta’s RBI single made it 5-3.
Guillen then hit a two-run shot of his own. It was his first homer since Aug. 14 — shortly before his 2010 season ended because of a left knee injury. Guillen didn’t return to the lineup until Saturday. He reached base four times Tuesday.
“It stretches out your lineup any time you get another hitter going in there,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “Especially a switch hitter like Carlos and a proven hitter.”
Detroit’s Rick Porcello (9-6) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Moscoso allowed six earned runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings.
“It is kind of frustrating, because we played very good baseball, and I lost the game in one inning,” Moscoso said. “It was really just three mistakes, but they did damage on all of them. You can’t leave fastballs up when you are trying to get out of a jam.”
Brennan Boesch hit his second double of the game in the sixth, driving in another run to make it 8-3.
The Tigers might have figured this was their night after Martinez showed impressive agility while scoring in the fourth inning.
“Great feet, you know,” Cabrera said. “He can play soccer.”
Martinez was on first with two out when Guillen hit a hard grounder that handcuffed first baseman Conor Jackson for an error. The ball bounced over into foul territory down the right-field line, and Martinez tried to come all the way around.
David DeJesus’ throw was in plenty of time but a bit wide of home to the first-base side. Suzuki caught it and dove back to tag Martinez, but the runner wasn’t there yet.
Rather than slide, Martinez sidestepped the plate entirely. When Suzuki, almost on all fours at the plate, reached out again to make the tag, Martinez reached back with his left arm and touched home.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin came out and argued the safe call to no avail. It was 1-0 Tigers.
“That was a very acrobatic — I guess, to say the least — slide,” Leyland said. “But he got in there and he was safe. It was a big play for us.”
Oakland answered back immediately with three runs in the fifth. Ryan Sweeney singled in a run, and Hideki Matsui hit a two-run single.
NOTES: Guillen’s homer was upheld after a review. Replays showed the ball hit a fan above the wall in right-center. … The Tigers agreed to terms with OF Tyler Collins, a sixth-round draft pick. … Oakland 3B Scott Sizemore left in the fourth after being hit in the left jaw by a pitch. Sizemore was squaring to bunt when he was beaned. X-rays were negative, and he is day to day. … Detroit CF Austin Jackson (sore left wrist) played for the first time since the All-Star break. He had two hits and scored twice. … Boesch had three hits, as did Oakland’s Cliff Pennington.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)