HOUSTON – After coming up just short with the bases loaded in his previous at-bat, Ian Kinsler got another chance for a big hit in the ninth inning.
Kinsler came through, hitting a three-run homer with two outs to rally the Detroit Tigers past the Houston Astros 4-3 on Saturday after Max Scherzer struck out a season-high 13 batters.
Kinsler missed a chance to give Detroit the lead in the seventh when left fielder L.J. Hoes made a stellar catch for the final out of the inning.
After that bases-loaded situation, I think Kins wanted to get some payback, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. He had a good at-bat and obviously a huge hit.
Detroit trailed by one before Kinsler sent an 81 mph slider from Jerome Williams (1-4) to left-center for a 4-2 lead. Kinsler also had a double in his seventh straight multihit game and 33rd this season.
He said there’s no real secret to his recent success.
I’ve been getting some hits to fall in. That always helps, he said. And when you’ve got Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez hitting behind you, that always helps, too.
Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez singled in the ninth before Kinsler connected.
Scherzer, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, gave up two runs in the first before settling in. He yielded seven hits and one walk in seven innings.
Seven strong and had a bunch of strikeouts, Ausmus said. That’s what we were hoping to see from Max Scherzer on a fairly regular basis.
Phil Coke (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan gave up a leadoff homer in the ninth before earning his 17th save in 22 chances.
Detroit bounced back after Houston ended the Tigers’ seven-game winning with a 4-3 11-inning victory Friday.
Astros manager Bo Porter used closer Chad Qualls to face the middle of the order in the eighth, leaving Williams, who has given up at least one run in eight of his last 11 appearances, to pitch the ninth.
I made the decision to bring in our best reliever in the eighth inning with the heart of their lineup coming up with the thought process of, we might get to the ninth and there might be nothing to save, Porter said. We were not able to close it out in the ninth inning, but if you give me that situation again with that part of the lineup coming up, I’ll do the same thing.
Porter said he never considered sending Qualls out for a second inning because he pitched on Friday night, too.