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Tigers 5, Rangers 2

Fister, Cabrera get Tigers going

Victor Martinez, who may have hurt himself on his swing, labored on the bases after his homer in the fourth. Victor Martinez, who may have hurt himself on his swing, labored on the bases after his homer in the fourth. (Duane Burleson/Associated Press)
By Noah Trister
Associated Press / October 12, 2011

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DETROIT - Doug Fister delivered another strong start in a game Detroit needed and Miguel Cabrera homered and hit a tiebreaking double to lead the Tigers past the Texas Rangers , 5-2, last night in Game 3 of the AL Championship Series.

Detroit dropped the first two games in Texas before turning to Fister, who won the decisive fifth game of the Division Series at Yankee Stadium last week. He was sharp again, allowing two runs and seven hits with no walks in 7 1/3 innings.

Jose Valverde, after pitching a season-high two innings the day before, worked around a leadoff double in the ninth for his third playoff save. He got some help from Cabrera, who made a diving play at first base.

“It’s going to be a long series,’’ Cabrera said. “Nobody [said] it’s going to be easy. You’ve got to be patient.’’

Cabrera’s double in the fifth put the Tigers ahead, 2-1, and he added a towering solo homer in the seventh.

Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta also went deep for the Tigers. Austin Jackson broke out of his postseason slump with three hits, including an RBI single.

Texas righthander Colby Lewis, who entered 4-0 in five postseason starts, allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.

“He throws strikes and every now and then he’s going to give up some long balls. I thought it was a pretty good ball game,’’ Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He kept us in the ball game. It was Fister that did the job out there tonight.’’

Stung by Nelson Cruz’s game-ending grand slam Monday, the Tigers returned home hoping to shake out of their offensive funk. They fell behind, 1-0, when Fister allowed three consecutive singles to start the game, but the 6-foot-8-inch righthander held the Rangers in check after that, even striking out Cruz to end the seventh as the crowd at Comerica Park roared its approval.

After leaving 22 runners on base in the first two games, the Tigers struggled again early on against Lewis. Detroit had two on with one out in the second, but Alex Avila and Ryan Raburn both struck out.

Lewis struck out five in the first three innings, but Martinez led off the fourth with a homer to right to tie it at 1.

Martinez, who hit .330 this season despite groin, knee, and back problems, appeared to hurt himself on his home run swing, laboring slowly around the bases after the ball cleared the fence. When he returned to the dugout, his head still down, he slammed his helmet down as he descended the steps toward the clubhouse.

Detroit was already playing without injured outfielders Delmon Young, Magglio Ordonez, and Brennan Boesch, and it wasn’t clear whether Martinez - the designated hitter - would be able to continue. But he was back in the fifth, standing near the on-deck circle with Cabrera at the plate.

With runners at first and third and two outs, Texas decided to pitch to Cabrera, and his line-drive double down the right-field line drove in a run.

“I’m not going to take another runner and put him at second base. The winning run is already at third base,’’ Washington said. “We tried to make a pitch. Colby didn’t get it there. Cabrera caught it.’’

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