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Tigers 4, Astros 3

The SportsXchange

HOUSTON -- One night after they tied it with a run in the ninth before eventually winning in 14 innings, the Detroit Tigers needed only nine innings for their come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Houston Astros on Friday at Minute Maid Park.

Houston's Jose Veras issued a leadoff walk to Don Kelly in the ninth. One out later, Alex Avila hit a two-run homer to right-center field to put the Tigers ahead for good.

The Astros had gone ahead 3-2 in the seventh. Matt Dominguez led off the inning with a double to left. Rick Ankiel put runners at the corners with a line drive up the middle, forcing Tigers right-hander Doug Fister to duck for cover.

Marwin Gonzalez followed with a chopper to the right side and second baseman Omar Infante let the ball go off his glove as he tried to make a play while ranging to his left. Gonzalez reached second and Dominguez scored on the error. Gonzalez got an RBI on the play but wasn't credited with a hit.

Robbie Grossman tied the score with an RBI single through the left side. Then Jose Altuve made it 3-2 with an RBI single up the middle, catching a break when the ball took a bounce off the second base bag to ruin any chance shortstop Jhonny Peralta had of getting an out after he fielded it.

Houston starter Bud Norris held the Tigers to five hits and two runs with three walks and seven strikeouts in seven strong innings. Fister gave up nine hits and three runs (two earned) with one walk and four strikeouts in six innings plus five batters in the seventh.

After Avila's two-run blast, the Tigers sent in Jose Valverde to close the game in the bottom of the ninth. Robbie Grossman walked with one out and moved to second on Altuve's groundout to second, but Jason Castro flied out to left to end it.

Peralta's RBI single to left gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the second.

The Astros mounted a threat with two outs in the third. Fister hit Grossman with a pitch, and Altuve followed with a single to left. The threat ended when Jason Castro flied out to left.

The Tigers jumped on again in the fourth. Miguel Cabrera led off with a double to right and tagged to third on Prince Fielder's flyout to right. Martinez followed with an RBI single off the top of the right field wall.

The umpires reviewed the replay to see if Martinez should be credited with a home run on a blast that appeared to hit the top of the yellow line, but they didn't reverse the initial call. The Tigers had to settle for a 2-0 lead.

The Astros countered in the bottom of the fourth. After consecutive two-out singles by Chris Carter and Dominguez, Ankiel walked to load the bases for Gonzalez. Fister fell behind in the count 3-0 before Gonzalez took a strike and then grounded out to short.

NOTES: Astros DH Carlos Pena hasn't bunted much in his career, but he took advantage of the Tigers' shift to lead off the sixth with a bunt single toward third. ... Tigers pitchers entered the game with an American League-best 281 strikeouts. ... Astros catcher Jason Castro got a rare start as designated hitter one night after catching all 14 innings. ... Left-hander Dallas Keuchel was unavailable for the Astros one night after throwing 4 1/3 innings of relief. ... Astros manager Bo Porter admitted that he jokingly told Cabrera that he might be issued 14 walks during the four-game series.
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