DETROIT – Miguel Cabrera homered, Austin Jackson hit a two-run single and the Detroit Tigers held on despite a short-handed bullpen, beating the Seattle Mariners 6-2 on Tuesday night.
The AL Central-leading Tigers were ahead 3-2 when they escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth while playing without closer Joaquin Benoit and left-handed reliever Drew Smyly. They were both given the night off.
Anibal Sanchez struck out 10 in 6 1/3 innings, but the Mariners tied it at 2 against him in the seventh, forcing Detroit’s relievers into action.
Al Alburquerque (3-3) got out of the seventh, and Phil Coke and Jose Alvarez made it through a dodgy eighth. Alvarez got two outs in the ninth, and Jose Veras finished.
Yoervis Medina (4-6) took the loss. The Mariners have lost eight of nine.
Detroit entered with a six-game lead over second-place Cleveland, but the Tigers struggled in this one for a while, blowing a pair of one-run leads.
Cabrera’s 44th homer, an opposite-field solo shot, gave Detroit a 2-1 lead in the sixth, but pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales tied it with an RBI double in the seventh.
Alex Avila led off the bottom of the seventh with his first triple of the year, and after Jose Iglesias was hit by a pitch, Avila was caught in a rundown between third and home on Jackson’s grounder.
Avila stayed in the rundown long enough to enable Iglesias to go all the way from first to third, and Torii Hunter’s sacrifice fly put the Tigers ahead 3-2.
They weren’t safe yet, though. With Benoit and Smyly unavailable, Coke walked two hitters, sandwiched around an error by Iglesias at shortstop. Alvarez came on with the bases loaded and got Mike Zunino to hit into a double play that kept the Tigers ahead.
Omar Infante added an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, and Jackson’s two-run single made it 6-2.
Sanchez gave up six hits. Don Kelly’s fourth-inning homer put Detroit ahead 1-0, but Raul Ibanez tied it in the sixth with his 28th homer of the year.
Seattle starter Brandon Maurer pitched five-plus innings, giving up two runs and five hits. He walked two and struck out six.
Notes: Detroit manager Jim Leyland said designated hitter Victor Martinez will catch Thursday’s game. ... Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander (13-11) faces Seattle right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6) tonight.