ST. LOUIS -- With home runs by Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez on Friday night, the Tigers blasted their way to a 10-4 win over the Cardinals to open an Interleague series at Busch Stadium between two of the Majors' best teams.
The Tigers built a 2-0 lead off Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez before lifting off against reliever Mitch Harris in the seventh. After a two-out walk by Ian Kinsler, Cabrera launched his 399th career homer, tying him with Andres Galarraga for the most by a Venezuelan-born player in MLB history. Martinez followed by knocking his eighth homer of the year, giving the Tigers their first back-to-back homers of the season and upping their home run total over the last two days to seven.
"Last couple of days, we've swung the bat better," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think we've been a little more selective with two strikes and a little tougher out than we had in the previous week."
The Cardinals homered their way back into the game with a two-run blast by Jhonny Peralta in the seventh and a two-run shot from Jason Heyward in the eighth. Detroit halted that momentum by scoring four times off reliever Seth Maness in the ninth.
"You have an offense over there that is swinging the bat very well," said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, whose bullpen was stung for eight runs. "They've got threats all the way through, and they make you pay when you make mistakes."
Detroit starter Shane Greene improved to 4-2 with five shutout innings, though he had to be lifted after 74 pitches because of what the team later announced as mild ulnar neuritis. Martinez (3-2) remains winless this month, but did show improved command and temperament while striking out eight over five innings.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Power display: The heart of the Tigers' order did the majority of the damage, with the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters going deep. Cespedes' home run broke a 15-game homerless drought dating back to April 27. Cabrera's homer was his third in the last two games. Martinez's homer was his second in the last four games.
Remember me? Facing the Tigers for the first time since he left Detroit as a free agent, Peralta blasted his team-high fifth home run to put the Cardinals on the scoreboard in the seventh. Peralta, an All-Star shortstop with the Tigers in 2011 and '13, hit the homer off reliever Angel Nesbitt, who hadn't previously allowed a long ball this year.
"It was great to face them, great to see a lot of the guys here, a couple of friends," Peralta said. "They're a really good team, and it's unbelievable how they're hitting." More >
Greene leaves with injury: Greene left the game after five scoreless innings with mild ulnar neuritis and will be re-evaluated Saturday. Greene stranded eight runners. The bullpen gave up a pair of two-run homers, but the Tigers' offense kept Greene as the winning pitcher.
"I'm a little scared, but like I said, there's no pain," Greene said. "I've got to keep telling myself there's no pain, everything's going to be all right." More >
Bottoming out: Though the Cardinals' offense showed a late burst of power, missed opportunities early left the deficit too large to overcome. Two of their best scoring opportunities were thwarted by having nine-hole hitter Martinez up to the plate in key two-out spots. Greene struck out Martinez to strand the bases full in the second. Two innings later, Martinez left two aboard when he unsuccessfully tried to bunt for a base hit.
"I tried to bunt to see if I could get on base and give an opportunity to another guy," said Martinez, who entered the game 1-for-11 at the plate this year. "After that, I just had to get back focused to compete, because they have a good lineup."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
With his infield single in the fifth, Matt Holliday extended his on-base streak to 33 games, tying Albert Pujols (2005) for the second-longest on-base streak to open a season with the Cardinals. Pujols is also the one ahead of Holliday now, as the former Cards first baseman set the franchise record by reaching in 42 straight games to begin 2008. Holliday has played in 33 of the Cards' first 35 games this season.
"I didn't know what to think when I hit it. I was like, 'Dang, I hope it goes foul,' because I didn't think I hit it that good. Then as I see Holliday going back, I hope it stays fair. It was just one of those in-betweeners." -- Martinez, on his homer
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers:David Price (3-1, 3.30 ERA) faces the Cardinals for the first time on Saturday. The lefty is looking to rebound from a rough outing against the Royals on May 8, when he gave up five runs in 6 1/3 innings before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. First pitch is scheduled for 2:15 p.m. ET.
Cardinals:Tyler Lyons will make his third start of the season for the Cardinals on Saturday, still seeking his first Major League win since 2013. Lyons, who has never faced the Tigers, has made two other Interleague starts in his career. Outfielder Randal Grichuk is expected to be activated from the disabled list prior to the game.