DETROIT -- Andy Dirks didn't make any changes batting in the leadoff spot. His results while replacing the injured Austin Jackson told a different story.
Dirks blasted his first career grand slam in the fourth inning and collected three hits, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 7-2 victory over the reeling Houston Astros at Comerica Park on Monday. Jackson, the team's usual catalyst, was placed on the disabled list earlier in the day with a right hamstring pull but Dirks thrived in his temporary role.
"I've hit leadoff in college and I've hit leadoff in the big leagues and the minor leagues and it's really nothing different, the way I approach it," said Dirks, who scored twice. "I just try to get on base for the big guys when I'm up there. When I'm in the six-hole, it's kind of the same thing -- I just try to get a new rally started."
Dirks smacked an 0-2 hanger off losing pitcher Bud Norris to break open a 3-2 game and hand the Astros their fifth straight loss. His four RBIs matched his career high, previously set against the Chicago White Sox on Sept, 4, 2011.
"I hit it pretty good," he said. "He didn't mean to leave a pitch out over the plate like that. I was fortunate enough to be on time with it and hit it."
Victor Martinez blasted a go-ahead, two-run homer earlier in the same inning. Miguel Cabrera's 11-game hitting streak ended, but the Tigers snapped a two-game losing streak.
Andy's been swinging the bat great the last two weeks," Martinez said. "There's no secret that Miggy and Prince (Fielder), they're the ones carrying the offense all year long. It's always nice when you get the rest of the teammates to pick them up."
Anibal Sanchez (4-3) gave up two runs and struck out eight in seven innings, his fourth consecutive start with at least eight strikeouts.
The Astros lost both their ace pitcher and top hitter. Norris (4-4) gave up seven runs and left the game with lower back spasms while warming up for the sixth. Second baseman Jose Altuve, hitting .333, suffered a subluxed right jaw when he collided with right fielder Jimmy Paredes chasing a Jhonny Peralta fly ball, which bounced off Paredes for a single.
Altuve told manager Bo Porter he would play Tuesday in the second game of the three-game series. Norris will be reevaluated before the next game.
Houston is 0-5 against Detroit this season by a combined score of 44-10.
"Obviously, the big key was the grand slam," Porter said. "It's one of those things where, again, if we can stay away from the big inning and find a way to give up two or three instead of giving up the six, it's a different ballgame."
Martinez put the Tigers on top with his two-run homer in the fourth off Norris. He ripped a high fastball into the right-field stands for his second homer of the season after Fielder led off with a double. Dirks' grand slam finished off the six-run rally.
"It shows the depth on their ball club," Porter said. "When you have arguably one of the best teams in the American League and one of your regular guys goes down, that's normally what you have. You have another guy step in and the team doesn't miss a beat. Dirks is a pretty good player in his own right."
Dirks was batting .167 in late April but has gone .354 since to raise his average to .260.
"I'm feeling better lately, compared to my first 50 at-bats or so," he said. "I've just got to keep it going."
The Tigers took a quick lead in the first inning. Dirks hit a leadoff double over center fielder Robbie Grossman, and Torii Hunter hit another double that bounced off the base of the wall 420 feet from home plate.
Aggressive base running helped the Astros take a 2-1 lead in the third. Marwin Gonzalez led off with a single, stole second and scored on Grossman's single. Grossman took second on the throw home, advanced to third on a Paredes single, then scored on Ronny Cedeno's groundout after Paredes stole second.
NOTES: Jackson, whose 15-day DL stint is retroactive to Sunday, was batting .272 with two homers and 11 RBIs. Avisail Garcia, who batted .432 in eight games with Triple-A Toledo, replaced Jackson on the active roster but did not play. ... Porter was surprised that the club's president and CEO since 2011, George Postolos, abruptly resigned on Monday. "I was shocked," Porter said. "I found out the same time everybody else found out. I don't know what led to his resignation but those things happen in sports." ... Cabrera had a major-league best 55 hits entering the game, the most by a Tigers player through 35 games since Harvey Kuenn had 56 in 1955. ... The Astros' last win in Detroit was a 9-4 victory on July 14, 2000.