Martinez, Simon keep Tigers rolling vs. Astros

Martinez, Simon keep Tigers rolling vs. Astros

DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez's three-run home run helped power Alfredo Simon through seven strong innings, sending the Tigers to their second straight win over the American League West-leading Astros -- and third straight overall -- with a 6-2 victory Friday night at Comerica Park.

Martinez's ninth home run of the year was a two-out shot that salvaged a third-inning scoring chance created by back-to-back singles from Jose Iglesias and Anthony Gose, the latter coming on a well-placed bunt to the right side. Astros starter Collin McHugh (5-2) overcame it to last seven innings, but Houston's high-power, low-average offense couldn't get him the lead back.

"I just felt relaxed," Martinez said about his home run. "I didn't really feel any pressure that at-bat. I was just going up there trying to stick to my plan, getting a pitch up." More >

Both Astros runs off Simon were unearned thanks to an Ian Kinsler error in the third, which led to a short-lived 2-0 advantage for Houston. Simon (5-2) allowed only one hit over the next four innings, retiring 13 of his final 15 batters for his first win since April 25.

Castro's run scored on error

"I think he found his groove a little bit as the game went on," catcher James McCann said. "Early he was kind of erratic where his stuff was, but as the game went on, less balls were in the dirt and he was finding the zone more often than not."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Houston takes advantage early: A two-out error by Tigers second baseman Kinsler in the third inning allowed Astros catcher Jason Castro to score from third and give Houston a 1-0 lead. In the next at-bat, George Springer hit a double to center field to push the lead to 2-0 on two unearned runs.

Springer's RBI double

Astro-nomical vengeance: Martinez barely missed a third-inning home run when he jumped a first-pitch curveball from McHugh, sending it just foul down the left-field line. The former Astros slugger regrouped and sent McHugh's second-pitch fastball on a line to right field for a three-run home run.

"I just had my plan," Martinez said. "I really wasn't looking for pitches. I was trying to react, see the ball up and react. That's what I did."

Rajai runs way to insurance tally: Rajai Davis made his first start at designated hitter in two years, but his legs changed the game for Detroit in the 8th inning. His burst down the line allowed him to barely beat Marwin Gonzalez's throw from shortstop for a two-out infield single, not only scoring Miguel Cabrera for an insurance run, but also continuing the inning. Davis then stole second, turning McCann's ensuing ground ball through the middle into a two-run single

McCann's two-run single

"Any time you can tack on runs late, it's enormous," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "You go from a one-run lead to a four-run lead with three outs to go, the price tag's pretty high on something like that."

Houston goes cold: The Astros had three hits and two runs through three innings, but they only managed one hit and one walk in the final six innings. Springer and Casto were the only Houston players to record a hit, with two each.

"We didn't get enough baserunners tonight, is really the story of our offense," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We walked a couple times, not a ton. They were in the strike zone. We didn't pile up any hits. We didn't put anything together to mount baserunners to break into it. It was 3-2 for a very long time, a well-played game, but we didn't create any offensive momentum for ourselves."

QUOTABLE
"I was pretty bad. I was pretty bad with the fastball command. Too many cutters. Too many hard-hit balls. I was behind too many batters. They had nine hits in seven innings. Every mistake I made, they were hitting hard. No, I didn't feel very good about it." -- Astros starter McHugh, after his quality start

McHugh's good outing

"Like Forrest Gump says, 'Alfredo Simon's like a box of chocolates.' You never know what you're gonna get. You don't know what pitch, what arm angle." -- Ausmus

Simon's strong outing

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Six of Martinez's nine home runs this season have gone out to right field. Nine of his 23 home runs in his breakthrough 2014 season went out that way.

WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: Right-hander Lance McCullers makes his second career Major League start, and it comes against the team his father played for in 1990, the Tigers. The younger McCullers gave up one earned run on three hits over 4 2/3 innings against the Athletics on May 18. First pitch is set for 3:08 p.m. CT.

Tigers: Kyle Lobstein matches up against an Astros team batting just .224 off left-handers entering Friday, but with an AL-best 19 home runs. Lobstein went 33 innings without allowing a home run before the Twins and Brewers hit three over his last two starts. Game time is 4:08 p.m. ET.

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Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason. Chris Vannini is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.