Upton HR leads Tigers to 5-3 win

CHICAGO – He was up to the task once again.

Justin Upton hit a two-out, three-run home run in the top of the 11th to break a 2-2 tie. The Detroit Tigers went on to beat the Chicago White Sox, 5-3, on tonight at U.S. Cellular Field.

Upton hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning in Sunday’s 5-4 win against the Royals in Kansas City, Mo.

He has eight home runs over his last 14 games.

“He has a track record of kind of being streaky,” said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. “This is what we’re looking at. He struggled a little bit early. Hit a little bit of a stride in June. Struggled a little bit more and then got hot.

“His resume has that on there. This is how he is as a hitter. Very streaky hitter. I’m hoping we can ride this hot streak for another month or so.”

Upton said playing meaningful baseball in September makes this a fun time.

“That’s what you live for,” Upton said of being able to come through in key situations. “That’s what you play the game for. The big moment where you can help your team out. I just happened to come through the last couple days. It’s not every day that you get to do that.

“You gotta go out there and give it your best effort.”

Upton said he knew he hit the 1-2 pitch to right good and said he would have been surprised if it didn’t go over the fence.

Asked about the past 14 games, Upton said he’s been on time a lot more with his swings.

“I’ve been giving myself a better opportunity to see the ball and put good swings on it,” Upton said.

Getting a chance to re-set mentally during a three-day break in August helped.

“Brad thought it was time,” Upton said. “I was out there grinding and I wasn’t getting any results. He knows what the grind is like. He thought it was a time I needed a break. I never go in there and tell him I need a break. He thought it was a good time and gave it to me. It’s worked out.

“You gotta look in the mirror. I wasn’t producing. I wasn’t doing anything productive for the team. I looked in the mirror and said this is a time to try and get things right. And hopefully I can help this team down the stretch. It’s worked out so far.”

Three other Tigers reached milestones in the win.

Three other players reached some milestones in the Tigers’ win.

Miguel Cabrera hit two home runs off White Sox lefty Chris Sale. Cabrera’s home run in the first inning was his 30th of the season and his 300th as a Tiger. Cabrera finished 4-for-5. It was the sixth time this season he’s had a four-hit game and three of them have come at U.S. Cellular Field.

Cabrera added his second home run in the third to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. It was his 58th multi-home run game and fifth this season. He became the fourth player to hit 300 home runs in club history, joining Al Kalilne (399), Norm Cash (373) and Hank Greenberg (306).

Justin Verlander record his 11th consecutive quality start, the longest such streak of his career. He struck out 11, giving him 35 career double-digit strikeout games and six this season. He struck out Melky Cabrera in the first inning for his 200th strikeout this season. It the sixth time he’s struck out 200 or more hitters in a season and first since 2013.

Verlander allowed two runs on eight hits over seven innings with one walk.

He gave up an RBI single to Tyler Saladino in the third inning and a game-tying home run to former Tiger Alex Avila in the seventh.

Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez allowed one run on one hit and one walk in the 11th with two strikeouts. He earned his 39th save of the season. He earned his 425th career save, moving past John Franco into sole possession of fourth place in major league history.

Verlander had given up a leadoff double to ex-Tiger Avisail Garcia, then an RBI single to Tyler Saladino in to the third inning.

He got out of a jam in the seventh, after giving up the game-tying home run. The White Sox had runners on first and third with two outs with Cabrera due up.

Ausmus had Bruce Rondon and Kyle Ryan up in the bullpen. Ausmus came out to check on Verlander, but left him. Cabrera struck out swinging at a 96 m.p.h. fastball to become Verlander’s 11th strikeout victim.

It was Cabrera who struck out swinging at a 95 m.p.h. fastball in the first inning to become Verlander’s 200th strikeout this season.

It was the sixth time this season Verlander had finished with double-digit strikeouts in a start.

The Tigers first baseman has 439 career home runs, tying him with Adrian Beltre and Paul Konerko for 42nd in MLB history. He has 58 career multi-home run games, including five this season.

Cabrera entered the game 10-for-42 lifetime against Sale and went 4-for-4 against him. Cabrera had a single and advanced to second in a throwing error by center fielder Adam Eaton with two outs in the eighth inning, with the game tied, 2-2. White Sox manager Robin Ventura left Sale in to face Martinez, who grounded out to second. Martinez came into the game batting .452 lifetime against Sale (19-for-42, four home runs).

The Tigers didn’t reveal their lineup until after batting practice.

The game marked the return of Cameron Maybin, who missed the previous four games with a sore left thumb. Maybin started in center and batted leadoff. He went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts, although he was robbed of a home run in the first inning by Cabrera on a leaping catch at the left field fence.

Kinsler didn’t start at second due to a finger injury he suffered on Sunday.


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