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Cabrera hits 41st homer in Tigers' win

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Miguel Cabrera seems to like hitting in New York. Of course, these days, he seems to like hitting anywhere.

Cabrera's pursuit of a second straight American League MVP award and an unprecedented second straight Triple Crown continued Friday night, when he hit a three-run homer to cap a four-run second inning by the Detroit Tigers in their 6-1 win over the New York Mets in front of 37,023 at Citi Field.

Cabrera finished 2-for-4 as he lengthened his leads in batting average and RBIs and moved closer to Chris Davis in homers. Cabrera is hitting .356 with 126 RBIs, well ahead of the Angels' Mike Trout (.333 entering Friday) and the Orioles' Davis (116 RBIs through Friday), respectively.

The homer for Cabrera was his 41st, which moved him within five of Davis' major-league-leading total. Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams are the only two players in history to win the Triple Crown twice, and neither did it in consecutive seasons.

"Tony LaRussa reminded me [that] when you're managing, you're concentrating on your moves and things you've got to do and sometimes you don't really maybe appreciate things until the game's over or maybe even when the careers are over," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But he said, 'Make sure you appreciate what you're watching [in Cabrera] because it's awfully special.'"

Cabrera has put up his monster numbers despite battling a chronic abdomen injury that has him limping around the bases and in the field over the past several weeks.

"He's HURT," said Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, yelling the final word. "He's been hurt for a month. Amazing."

In Cabrera's previous visit to New York two weekends ago, he went 7-for-13 with five RBIs and three homers in three games against the Yankees, including two ninth-inning, game-tying blasts off Mariano Rivera.

Cabrera picked up Friday where he left off 12 days ago. In the first inning, he singled on the first pitch he saw from Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning. The next inning, with two outs, two runners on and the Tigers up 2-1, he hammered Matsuzaka's first pitch just fair several rows into the left-field bleachers.

"If we're laughing, we're amazed," Hunter said. "You know how you laugh [when amazed]? I'm saying 'Wow' since spring training. And to this day I'm still like 'Wow. How is that possible?' Some pitches are [at] his neck, some are like in the other batter's box. I wonder how he hits these balls out of the park. He's amazing."

The Tigers (75-53) extended their AL Central lead to six games over the Indians, while the Mets (58-68) lost their second straight.

Hunter finished 2-for-5 with a solo homer in the first and an RBI double in the second on the pitch before Cabrera's blast. Austin Jackson scored two runs and hit a solo homer in the seventh for the Tigers' final run while Omar Infante had a pair of singles.

"I thought we did a good job and we did what we do when we're pretty good," Leyland sad. "We hit it into the gaps and over the fence."

Doug Fister (11-6) earned his first win since Aug. 2 by pitching out of trouble throughout his 6 1/3-inning stint. Fister allowed one run despite surrendering eight hits and two walks and enjoying just one 1-2-3 inning (the third).

Fister struck out four and induced Juan Lagares to hit into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play with runners at the corners in the sixth. He exited with two runners on in the seventh and watched as Drew Smyly stranded the pair by striking out Eric Young Jr. and retiring Daniel Murphy on a fly to right.

"I might have been a guy too slow to get him out of there," Leyland said of Fister. "But Doug's capable of getting a ground ball, making them mis-hit a ball, things of that nature. I let him go and obviously he did a very good job."

Young had three hits and a stolen base for the Mets, while Marlon Byrd was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the first inning. Wilmer Flores added three singles.

Matsuzaka, who signed with the Mets on Thursday, took the loss in his 2013 major-league debut. Matsuzaka, who made 19 starts for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate before he asked for and received his release on Tuesday, allowed five runs on six hits and one walk while striking out four over five innings.

All of the Tigers' damage against Matsuzaka came in the first two innings. He retired the final 10 batters he faced.

"After [the second inning], he kept us in the game," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I thought the last three innings he was very, very good."

NOTES: To make room for Matsuzaka on the 25-man roster, the Mets optioned RHP Greg Burke to Triple-A Las Vegas. ... Mets 3B David Wright, who has been on the disabled list since Aug. 3 with a strained right hamstring, took grounders prior to batting practice on Friday and is also running in a pool. ... Tigers C Alex Avila, who is on the 7-day concussion disabled list, played just three innings for Triple-A Toledo on Thursday before he exited with a headache. Jim Leyland said Avila could return to Toledo's lineup as the designated hitter on Saturday. ... Victor Martinez made his first start at catcher since Aug. 4, 2011. He missed all of 2012 with a knee injury.
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