DETROIT -- Jordan Zimmermann's return from the disabled list was a return to offensive firepower for the Orioles, who hit three home runs off the Tigers' starter and rolled from there to an 11-3 win to regain sole possession of the second American League Wild Card spot and move to within two games of the Red Sox in the AL East.
The Tigers remained six games back of the Indians in the AL Central.
"I felt pretty good," Zimmermann said. "I just wasn't locating with the fastball. I was trying for the corner and I'd miss five inches off [the plate] or five inches down the middle. It was just one of those days where I'd get two strikes and I'd try to throw a pitch up and in, like the one that Chris Davis hit, and it ran back middle."
"Once Wieters hit the three-run homer, you're staring up a very steep cliff," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick start: While a brief 11-minute rain delay set back the first pitch of the game, Jones wasted no time starting the Orioles' scoring. He lofted the first pitch of the game to left field and it carried out to the bullpen for his fifth career leadoff home run. Three batters later, Davis took Zimmermann deep on an 0-2 fastball over the heart of the plate to give the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
"I just felt that I needed to get in there and get something going on," Jones said. "I think since I've been leading off I've been aggressive. I was just trying to jump-start the team. Obviously this is a big win for us, and I'm glad that the ball got out."
J.D. continues hitting: One night after J.D. Martinez went 3-for-3 with a walk, he continued to confound Orioles pitching in an effort to whittle Detroit's early deficit. His first-inning RBI was an opposite-field blooper into short right field. Three innings later, his ground ball through the left side fueled a bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth. Not until a sixth-inning fly ball to center did the O's finally keep Martinez off the basepaths.
Eating up innings: Fresh off his first complete game since 2011, Jimenez retired the Tigers in order on four separate occasions. He held Detroit in check by retiring seven straight batters between the first and third innings, then bounced back from a run in the fourth to retire 11 in a row. Jimenez seemed to think he felt just as good as, if not better than, his last start.
"I took command and I threw all the breaking balls when I needed them," Jimenez said.
Damage control: The Tigers had one real opportunity to claw back into the game, loading the bases against Jimenez with nobody out in the fourth. Jimenez struck out Jarrod Saltalamacchia on three big swings, then induced groundouts from Erick Aybar and Jose Iglesias to limit the damage to a run.
"I feel good. I feel like I'm back to my old self. I just wasn't able to locate pitches. It's pretty embarrassing going out there and going one-plus innings and giving up six runs." -- Zimmermann
"We were in a little bit of a delay, and I didn't want to delay the game any more or delay the process of this game." --Jones, on hitting a home run on the first pitch of the game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Jones' first-pitch home run was his 10th of the season, tying him with Seattle's Robinson Cano and Atlanta's Freddie Freeman for the second-most first-pitch homers in the Major Leagues. The only player who has more such home runs is fellow Oriole Davis, who has 11.
WHAT'S NEXT Orioles: Sunday at 1:10 p.m. ET in Detroit, Chris Tillman (15-5, 3.76 ERA) makes his return from a shoulder injury that put him on the DL for more than three weeks. Tillman is 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA against the Tigers since 2014, including a win at Baltimore on May 13 in which he threw seven shutout innings.
Tigers:Justin Verlander (14-7, 3.28) takes the mound in Sunday's series finale at 1:10 p.m. ET looking to avenge his 1-0 complete-game defeat from May 13 at Camden Yards. He has allowed two runs or less in 12 of his last 13 starts.