BOSTON — Detroit manager Jim Leyland knows that if his offense needs a jump-start he has the perfect players to do it.
Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder homered on consecutive pitches to cap a five-run fifth inning Wednesday night, and the Tigers beat the Boston Red Sox 7-5 to avoid a three-game sweep.
“Those guys are awfully good right in the middle. They’re pretty good at what they do and they did what they do tonight,” he said. “When we get rolling pretty good that’s a good three-four combination, probably as good as anybody in baseball. They’re fun to watch.”
Cabrera and Fielder helped sparked a Tigers’ squad that had trouble scoring runs on a just completed nine-game road trip. In losing six of its first eight on the trip before Wednesday, Detroit was held to 2.38 runs per game.
Cabrera, just 1 for 6 against the Red Sox in the first two games, was offended about the recent talk about the lack of offense.
“We’re one of the top teams hitting in the American League. I don’t know why people talk about our hitting,” he said. “We’re one of the top teams hitting. I guess we need to just win some more games, that’s it.”
One season ago, the Tigers had a similar record and wound up winning the A.L. Central with 95 wins.
It’s something Cabrera hopes the team can do again.
“I wish,” he said, breaking into a wide smile.
Cabrera has been on a torrid pace since early May, hitting .347 with 19 homers and 65 RBIs.
“The biggest problem was hanging a breaking ball to one of the best hitters in the game,” Boston starter Aaron Cook said. “He had a long at bat and I tried to do something a little different.”
Delmont Young added a solo homer for Detroit, which won for just the second time in seven games.
Carl Crawford hit a solo homer for the Red Sox, who had a four-game winning streak halted.
Cody Ross, Will Middlebrooks and Pedro Chirico had RBI singles for Boston.
“We keep winning series and we’re going to be just fine,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
The Tigers finished 2-5 in Fenway Park and were 5-5 overall in the season series against the Red Sox.
Rick Purcell (8-6) pitched 5 2-3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits for the win. He was 0-2 with a 10.80 ERA in three career starts against Boston.
Cook (2-5) was hit hard for the second straight start, allowing six runs on nine hits, including two homers, in 4 2-3 innings. He felt his sinker let him down.
“If I’m still down in the zone, they’re hitting balls on the ground and I think the outcome of the game is totally different,” he said.
Craig Below, acquired from Arizona in a non-waiver trade deadline deal, made his Red Sox debut, allowing a hit in 1 1-3 scoreless innings.
Octavio Dote and Joaquin Benoit each worked a scoreless inning before Jose Val Verde pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances.
Detroit chased Cook and broke a 1-all game with the big fifth. Alex Avila and Johnny Peralta opened with singles and advanced on Ramon Santiago’s sacrifice. Austin Jackson followed with an RBI single and Quentin Berry had a run-scoring ground out.
Cabrera then hit a towering fly ball completely out of Fenway over the Green Monster seats and Fielder hit a shot into first row of the center field bleachers, making it 6-1.
In the sixth, the Red Sox cut it to 6-4. Boston had loaded the bases with no outs, but Jarrod Saltalamacchia bounced into a double play that scored a run and Middlebrooks had an RBI single. Phil Coke relieved and allowed Ciriaco’s RBI single before he struck out Jacoby Ellsbury.
Crawford homered off Coke in the seventh, but Young homered in the eighth to restore Detroit’s two-run edge.
The Red Sox had jumped ahead 1-0 in the first when Ross had a two-out RBI single after Ellsbury doubled leading off.
The Tigers tied it in the fourth on Brennan Boesch’s RBI single on an eight-pitch at-bat. But Ellsbury saved a run with a running over the shoulder catch to end the inning, stumbling and falling forward into the side of Boston’s bullpen as he came to the ground. He went into the ‘pen with his right shoulder, the same one that caused him to miss 79 games after he dislocated it in Boston’s home opener.
NOTES: Cabrera and Fielder have hit consecutive homers three times this season. … Boston DH David Ortiz, on the 15-day DL with a strained right Achilles, was eligible to come off Wednesday, but Valentine said he hadn’t done any running yet so it would likely be a few days. … Fielder was hit on the right side of his helmet diving back to second on a pickoff play. The helmet came flying off, and he was checked by the team’s trainer, but stayed in the game. … Valentine said RHP Josh Beckett, who left Tuesday’s game in the third inning with a back spasm, is not expected to go on the DL and is scheduled to start Sunday against Texas, but LHP Franklin Morales is ready just in case. … RHP Scott Atchison, out with an ulnar ligament injury, is expected to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion. … RF Ryan Kalish also made a nice running catch, sliding on one knee as he came to a stop on the warning track near the Pesky Pole. … Fielder walked over and gave the infield practice ball to a young boy before the bottom of the ninth.
YANKEES 12, ORIOLES 3: The bullpen door swung open, and Joba Chamberlain stopped to take in the scene. For the first time in 14 months, he was headed back to a major league mound.
“Your heart gets racing again, just to know that door’s opening, your name is called and you’re going to pitch,” he said. “It was something that I will remember for the rest of my life.'”
Chamberlain returned from elbow and ankle injuries that had sidelined him since June 5 last season and the Yankees revived a bit, too, routing the Baltimore Orioles 12-3 to stop a four-game losing streak that tied their season high.
With Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on hand and sitting with the Bleacher Creatures at the start, Robinson Cano hit a grand slam in a seven-run third inning, Derek Jeter had three hits and three RBIs on a rainy afternoon and Phil Hughes (11-8) pitched homerless ball for only the fifth time this year.
A night after wasting a five-run, first-inning lead in an 11-5 defeat, New York gave Zach Britton another shellacking at Yankee Stadium, won for just the fourth time in 13 games and restored a 6½-game lead in the AL East rather than have Baltimore creep within 4½.
“I want it to be 20 games,” Nick Swisher said.
Chamberlain, the excitable pitcher who has alternated energizing and puzzling Yankees fans since his debut in 2007, had pitched eight scoreless outings before going on the disabled list with a sore elbow last June. The following day, an MRI revealed a torn ligament.
He appeared to be a month or two from returning before he dislocated his right ankle during spring training while playing with his son at a local spot that had a trampoline. Some fretted he might not return this year. Chamberlain said he never doubted or got down, inspired by his dad, Harlan Chamberlain — in a wheelchair since childhood due to polio.
“He never complained why, and he was never going to be out of his wheelchair. He was never going to miraculously be able to walk again. And I knew I was going to be able to walk again,” Joba said. “It was a great example for me growing up to be able to get through this.”
Chamberlain entered to a big ovation and started J.J. Hardy with a called strike, then gave up a home run on an 85 mph slider that went just over the glove of leaping left fielder Ichiro Suzuki, hit the top of the wall and bounced into the seats. Chamberlain threw 28 pitches, allowing two runs, a walk, four hits in 1 2-3 innings, including an RBI double to Endy Chavez in the eighth. His fastball reached 93 mph — four mph less than during his minor league rehab outings — and he relied on off-speed pitches.
“I was curious to see how he would do today because I’m sure there’s a lot of emotions,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He threw strikes. I’m happy with that. I didn’t think he tried to overthrow today.”
With Mariano Rivera out for the season following knee surgery, Chamberlain could wind up as the Yankees seventh-inning pitcher behind setup man David Robertson and closer Rafael Soriano.
“He’s almost like a trade acquisition,” Hughes said.
Swisher never doubted that Chamberlain would make it back to the major leagues this season.
“You seen the size of that dude? That guy’s a beast,” he said. “Big guys like that really heal up well. He had a bad injury, man. Can’t blame him for that, man. I got a kid. I take him to the trampoline thing.”
Hughes allowed nine hits but just one run in six innings.
“I didn’t pitch well at all,” he said. “Didn’t have good stuff. Didn’t have good location. Was just trying to bear down and get some outs when I really needed them.”
In his first outing at Yankee Stadium, Britton (1-1) retired just one batter during a 12-run first inning in a 17-3 loss last July 30. He got a no-decision in September and allowed seven runs over 2 2-3 innings in this one, leaving him with a 19.13 ERA in the Bronx.
“We’re in the hunt, and I understand what I have to do to be at this level,” he said. “I’m not getting it done right now. So I got to either do something or somebody else is going to come up and find a way to do the job.”
NOTES: Suzuki, acquired from Seattle on July 23, played left field for only the second time in his big league career — the other was in Game 5 of the 2001 AL championship series at old Yankee Stadium. He made a leaping catch of Mark Reynolds’ drive near the top of the wall in the sixth. … Casey McGehee made his Yankees debut, a day after he was obtained from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline. His beard shaved off to comply with team rules, McGehee started at first base and went 0 for 2 with two walks, two runs and an eighth-inning sacrifice fly. … Sotomayor, a Bronx native, joined the Bleacher Creatures for their first-inning Roll Call. Curtis Granderson hit his 29th homer in the first. … Cano had been in a 1-for-17 slide entering the series finale. His slam was his second this season and ninth overall. … Alex Rodriguez, his broken left hand bandaged, played with his kids on the field after the game on family day. … The Yankees were 7 for 13 with runners in scoring position, Baltimore 0 for 15.