DETROIT -- Max Scherzer pitched a four-hitter through seven innings, striking out nine, and Victor Martinez homered and drove in three runs Thursday to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Tigers, who had lost four of five entering this series, took two of three games from a Rays squad which had come in having won seven of its previous eight.
Scherzer (8-0) allowed his run in the sixth. Ben Zobrist walked leading off, stole second with one out and scored on a two-out single by James Loney.
The Rays scored a run off Tigers' setup man Joaquin Benoit in the eighth on a walk to Zobrist, a ground-rule double by Evan Longoria and Loney's RBI infield single.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde, who hadn't pitched since surrendering four runs on two homers in a blown save/loss May 31 -- in a game also started by Scherzer -- worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
Martinez ended Detroit's 12-inning scoreless streak with his fourth homer of the season, which followed Prince Fielder's one-out single and gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead after four innings against Rays starter Roberto Hernandez (3-6).
Martinez put the Tigers up 5-1 lead in the seventh with a two-out single after Cabrera singled off reliever Jake McGee's left shin and stole second while Fielder was striking out. McGee left the game after the single and Martinez squeezed a 2-2 pitch between short and third off Jamey Wright.
Jhonny Peralta doubled to right center off the wall to open the sixth, stopped at third on Omar Infante's single and scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Avisail Garcia.
Cabrera, who entered the game hitting .507 with runners in scoring position this season, draped a two-out single to shallow right center in the fifth to score Don Kelly from second base. Kelly had singled leading off and advanced to second on a hit-and-run groundout.
NOTES: Rays outfielder Sam Fuld started in left for Kelly Johnson for the second straight game. Johnson has been out with back stiffness, but doesn't feel it's going to be a continuing issue. ... Tigers' manager Jim Leyland remembers when he signed his first pro contract with Detroit, Sept. 21, 1963, two years before there was a draft. "I signed for zero dollars and $400 a month -- and I thought I was the richest guy in the world." ... Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson threw his first bullpen session Wednesday at Comerica Park since being struck in the head by a batting practice fly ball a year ago April. He threw in the afternoon this time, but not during batting practice, as was the case last year when he was struck by a Delmon Young fly ball. "I got out there before BP," Hellickson said. ... Detroit reliever Octavio Dotel is making little or no progress in overcoming a sore right elbow. He's has been working at the club's Spring Training base in Lakeland, FL., but pain persists. He's not ready for a rehab assignment. ... Tampa Bay's three-run rally after eight scoreless innings Wednesday night gave the Rays 30 ninth-inning runs, most in the Majors entering play Thursday. ... Detroit's Martinez entered the game hitting .364 in 64 lifetime games against Tampa Bay, third highest average among active players.