The Tigers took the lead in the first inning, after Matzek allowed back-to-back hits to start his outing.
Matzek made his first start since July 26 after filling in with two-thirds of an inning out of the bullpen in the Rockies' 16-inning game against the Cubs on Tuesday. He allowed at least one run in each inning in which he appeared, exiting without retiring a batter in the fifth. Detroit managed to push across at least a run in all eight innings in which it came to the plate -- the first time since 2006 that a team scored in every inning.
It was by far the worst outing of the rookie's career. Matzek gave up eight runs on 10 hits in four-plus innings. He fell to 2-6, and his ERA shot up nearly a full run, to 5.31.
"He had a tough one tonight," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said of Matzek. "Tough lineup to get through, but the balls that got hit hard were elevated out over the plate. That's typically the case when guys are barreling up the ball."
Matzek's location was off all night, and he allowed the leadoff man to reach in four of the five innings he appeared in.
"That's never good," Matzek said of the traffic on the bases early in innings. "You want to get the leadoff guy out. When you get him out, it becomes a lot easier. They swung the bats well tonight."
Facing likely the best lineup he's seen in his Major League career to date, Matzek was clearly out of his element. Mistakes that he might have gotten away with against lesser teams were smoked. And the onslaught didn't cease once Matzek left the game.
Meanwhile, Tigers starter Rick Porcello missed bats all night, striking out 10 over eight innings.
"He had real good command," Weiss said. "He pitches to the edges of the plate. That's why he's having a good year."
After the second inning, in which he allowed two runs, Porcello went through the Rockies order with remarkable ease. He allowed just three hits from that point on.
"He had some really good movement," said Charlie Blackmon. "All of his pitches were at the bottom of the zone. He was able to mix his pitches pretty well."
In the second, Drew Stubbs doubled home Justin Morneau and later scored on a groundout, giving the Rockies a 2-1 lead. Stubbs had two extra-base hits on the night, trying to spark an offense that was in desperate need of them.
Stubbs, part of a crowded outfield, has taken advantage of the opportunities Weiss has given him.
"He's done a great job with that playing time," Weiss said.
In the third, with a storm narrowly missing the ballpark, the winds picked up and Cabrera delivered a massive home run. Matzek left a hanging changeup over the middle of the plate.
Before Saturday's game, Weiss talked about Matzek's poise, and he'll need it to bounce back from such a rough performance.
"That's always a challenge, especially for a young pitcher when you get kicked around a little bit like everyone does in this league," Weiss said. "You've got to bounce back. I think he'll be all right."
Detroit played add on following Cabrera's monstrous blast. Three straight base hits in the fourth inning pushed the Tigers' lead to three.
An inning later, Ian Kinsler reached on a single and advanced to third on a throwing error by Matzek, and the frame spiraled out of control from there. Cabrera was intentionally walked, but Victor Martinez put the game well out of reach with a three-run shot to left on a fastball on the inner third of the plate. He was the last batter Matzek faced.
J.D. Martinez also homered off reliever Rex Brothers in the seventh.
Colorado scored three runs on the Detroit bullpen in the ninth but still came up well short. The Rockies have now lost 17 of their last 19 road games.