Tigers-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

The first-place Detroit Tigers are again surging behind a red-hot offense led by their unrelated Martinez duo.

Another Martinez may be the answer to ending their current tear.

Nick Martinez takes the mound for Texas looking to shut down the visiting Tigers for the second time this season and help the Rangers avoid losing eight straight for the first time in nearly nine years.

Detroit (42-32) is averaging 6.5 runs while winning its last six games - its third streak of at least that many this season. The Tigers have won the first five on a nine-game trip after beating the Rangers 8-6 on Wednesday.

Ian Kinsler, hitting .419 over his last 11 games, had two hits after homering against his former team in Tuesday's opener, and Miguel Cabrera drove in a pair of runs.

Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez homered on consecutive pitches from different Texas pitchers in the fifth and finished with two RBIs apiece.

"Vic's been swinging the bat well all year, right-handed, left-handed, you take your pick," manager Brad Ausmus said. "The thing about J.D. is his power. When he gets hot, the ball is going to travel."

J.D. Martinez is hitting .411 with six homers during a 14-game hitting streak.

"He's been swinging the bat great, and he's a guy that has a lot of power," Victor, hitting .330 on the season, said of J.D. "He's getting a chance to play more often, and he's been doing a lot of damage."

Detroit, which leads the AL with a .276 batting average, didn't have nearly as much success the first time it faced Martinez (1-4, 4.22 ERA) on May 24.

The rookie right-hander picked up his first major league win in that contest, giving up one run in six innings of a 12-2 victory. He went 0-2 with a 11.08 ERA in three subsequent starts but has improved over his last two.

After allowing two runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss to Seattle on June 15, Martinez gave up two runs and three hits in seven innings of the Rangers' 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Saturday.

"He was great," manager Ron Washington said. "He was moving the ball around and never really gave them too many pitches in the same spot consecutively. He used his changeup well and spotted his curveball and his fastball."

Martinez now looks to help the Rangers (35-42) avoid their longest losing streak since Aug. 8-16, 2005. Adrian Beltre is 7 for 8 in the series and drove in two runs Wednesday, but Texas has dropped six of seven at home.

"It's definitely hard to comprehend a seven-game losing streak, but it is what it is," Washington said. "We knew why. We've got to score some runs, and we've got to pitch better."

Beltre is hitting .405 over his last 20, and he's 8 for 19 in his career against Rick Porcello, who had a rough outing while opposing Martinez last month.

Porcello (9-4, 3.76) gave up eight runs and 12 hits - including a homer to Beltre - over 5 1-3 innings in that defeat, beginning a tough stretch in which he went 1-3 with a 6.00 ERA over five starts.

The right-hander ended that slump Friday, giving up six hits in six scoreless innings of a 6-4 win over Cleveland.

Porcello may have a difficult time building off that outing, though, as he's 3-4 with a 7.41 ERA in seven career starts against the Rangers.

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