DETROIT -- The Tigers, held to one hit over eight scoreless innings by Aaron Sanchez, erupted for two runs in the ninth off Sanchez and closer Roberto Osuna before Ian Kinsler's 10th-inning RBI single earned Detroit its fifth straight win with a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.
While Matt Boyd held his old team hitless for four innings until Kevin Pillar slugged a high offspeed pitch leading off the fifth, Sanchez allowed only a Justin Upton double leading off the third inning and walked Kinsler with two outs in the sixth. His 12 strikeouts included three against American League batting leader Victor Martinez and two to reigning AL batting champ Miguel Cabrera.
"We were waiting for our offense to kind of get going at some point in that game," Kinsler said. "[Sanchez] was tough to solve tonight. But the key is that our pitchers kept us right there."
Sanchez took the mound for the ninth at 93 pitches. Five pitches later, the Tigers had a run on the board and the tying run in scoring position after Kinsler doubled home Jose Iglesias. Cabrera brought him in with a double off the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center field.
"Never give up," Cabrera said. "It's going to be 27 outs. Go out there and play nine innings hard. That's what we did, play hard, and you'll get a shot to win games."
A leadoff single from Upton and a Jarrod Saltalamacchia walk set up the Tigers to complete the comeback off Joe Biagini. Upton beat the throw to third on Iglesias' sacrifice bunt, loading the bases with nobody out for Kinsler to hit a line drive over third base.
"Tonight is one of those nights, where you just try to take the good from it, and I think that's what I do any night," Sanchez said. "I try to take the good from any start that I have and try to just build on the good and flush away the bad. There was a lot of good things tonight, there's a lot more work to put in these next five days and see where it goes."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Parnell prevents putaway runs: Bobby Parnell faced a self-inflicted jam in the ninth with a leadoff walk, a spiked throw to second on a fielder's choice and a wild pitch. He pitched his way out of it with a curveball to fan Jose Bautista, a three-pitch strikeout of Encarnacion and Martin's flyout. The recovery kept the game within reach for the Tigers.
"I'm going to walk a little taller today after that," Parnell said.
Missed opportunities: The Blue Jays took the early 1-0 lead, but they had plenty of chances to cash in additional runs to put the game out of reach and came up short each time. In the seventh, they had runners on the corners with nobody out and settled for one run. In the ninth, they loaded the bases with one out only to see Edwin Encarnacion strike out and Russell Martin fly out to right to end the threat. Martin was also caught in a rundown between third and home in the sixth. Toronto finished 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.
"We haven't been the offense we know we are capable of [being]," Pillar said. "These are going to be games we're going to look back on down the road and learn from them and execute a little bit better. It's not that we don't care or lack effort. It's just how it goes sometimes. It's always tough when guys get on base, especially leadoff hits or walks."
Cabrera completes rally: Cabrera and Martinez had combined for five strikeouts in six at-bats against Sanchez, and Osuna had Cabrera set up for another with the tying run on third and one out in the ninth. However, Osuna challenged Cabrera with a 97-mph fastball and paid for it, watching Cabrera send one of his typical opposite-field lofts to right-center. It didn't get out, but it was enough to tie it.
"That's the guy you want at home plate in that situation," Iglesias said. "He's the best hitter in baseball. We've got tremendous confidence in everybody, but especially that guy. That's what he naturally does. He's a great hitter."
Pillar of strength: The Blue Jays didn't register their first hit until the fifth inning, but it was a big one when Pillar led off with his third homer of the year. According to Statcast™, the ball was projected to travel 416 feet from home plate and left his bat at 107 mph. Pillar later led off the seventh with a single for his first multi-hit game since May 27.
"I think when I'm going up there ready to hit from Pitch 1, I let my eyes do it for me," Pillar said. "I stay in the zone more, feeling for certain things. Not being aggressive, I tend to make poor decisions or late decisions that cause me to get out of the zone. I'm still young. I'm still trying to understand what works for me and what kind of hitter I am. I just have to take the thinking part out of it. Shut my brain off, see it, hit it."
"It's tough to lose, it's a real tough game to lose. He was as good as anybody could be. He shut down a great hitting team, a real good hitting lineup. I tip my hat to the kid." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, on Sanchez's outing
"Oh my God. Unbelievable. Whew. Wow. Very impressed. Very impressed." -- Cabrera, on Sanchez
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sanchez became the first Blue Jays starting pitcher to strike out at least 10 batters in a game since David Price did it in his team debut last season. Price struck out 11 on Aug. 3 against the Twins.
In the Tigers' 10th inning, with runers on first and second and no outs, Iglesias laid down a sacrifice bunt, and first baseman Justin Smoak fired to third to get the lead runner in Upton, who was called safe. The Blue Jays challenged, but after a brief review, the call was confirmed.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (3-6, 4.21 ERA) will take the mound when the Blue Jays close out their three-game series against the Tigers on Wednesday at 1:10 p.m. ET. Dickey didn't allow an earned run over 6 2/3 innings in his previous start against the Red Sox. He is 3-1 with a 3.34 ERA in seven career appearances on the road in Detroit.
Tigers:Jordan Zimmermann (8-2, 2.58) takes the mound for the finale looking for his fourth straight win. He tossed eight scoreless innings on six hits in a 2-0 win over the Blue Jays while with the Nationals last June.