Tigers flex muscles, erupt to pull away from D-backs

Cabrera smacks 15th homer, plates three in series-clinching win

Tigers flex muscles, erupt to pull away from D-backs

PHOENIX -- For at least a nervous moment or two in the latter innings Wednesday, it looked as if the Tigers might blow a late lead and let the D-backs crawl back ahead for the second game in a row.

But unlike on Tuesday, the Tigers' bullpen shut the door and a Miguel Cabrera-led offense provided more than enough insurance, propelling Detroit to a series-clinching, 11-5 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.

"They kept clawing their way back into the game," manager Brad Ausmus said. "Really, it wasn't until Miggy's homer that we were able to put them away."

The D-backs nearly climbed out of an early 7-0 hole, coming within two runs of the Tigers by the seventh inning when they started the frame with three straight singles.

After starter Anibal Sanchez (7-4) induced a flyout from second baseman Aaron Hill, Ausmus brought in Joba Chamberlain to face the D-backs' best hitter -- first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.

Chamberlain, who Ausmus called the Tigers' most consistent pitcher, vs. Goldschmidt with the game on the line had all the makings of a suspenseful late-inning at-bat.

"We've been great about [comebacks]," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "I think they felt us coming."

Said Ausmus: "The Diamondbacks kept coming back and coming back and coming, and it felt like Joba was the one guy that could kind of stem the tide. … This, to me, was the game."

The suspense did not last long. Goldschmidt grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw, ending the D-backs' last shot at a comeback.

"Just had to execute a pitch, and we executed a pitch and got exactly what we wanted," Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain, working with a day's rest, was prepared to go out to pitch the eighth and hand the ball over to Joe Nathan for the save, but there was no need for either of them to go out to the mound after the top of the eighth.

The D-backs' hard-throwing rookie reliever, Matt Stites, got a pair of strikeouts to start the inning, but center fielder Austin Jackson started a two-out rally with a double -- his third of the series -- to right field. Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler followed with a pair of singles, extending the Tigers' lead to three.

Up next was Cabrera, who had not hit a home run since June 30. The veteran slugger worked a 3-2 count off Stites before slamming a changeup off the left-field foul pole.

"Miggy's home run opens the game up for us, gives us a little bit of breathing room late," Ausmus said.

The home run effectively crushed any hopes the D-backs had of rallying late in the game. The six-run lead was too much to overcome, and the offense went down quietly in the last two innings.

The Tigers' offense scored more than 10 runs for the third time this month, and Ausmus praised his team's ability to get big hits on Wednesday. They left three fewer runners on base than they did on Tuesday despite getting three more hits.

Unlike Tuesday, where most rallies ended before the Tigers could put more than a run on the board, every score came in a multi-run inning.

The Tigers put up five runs in the fourth inning thanks in large part to a key challenge from Ausmus. Shortstop Andrew Romine hit a grounder to Hill, who bobbled the ball before hurrying a throw to first.

Romine was called out, but the initial call was overturned. Two batters later, Jackson cleared the loaded bases with a double.

"It was good to see the guys swing the bat," Ausmus said. "We really haven't busted out for some runs like this since before the break."

Adam Lichtenstein is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.