HOUSTON (AP) — After coming up just short with the bases loaded in his previous at-bat, Ian Kinsler got another chance for a big hit in the ninth inning.
Kinsler came through, hitting a three-run homer with two outs to rally the Detroit Tigers past the Houston Astros 4-3 on Saturday after Max Scherzer struck out a season-high 13 batters.
Kinsler missed a chance to give Detroit the lead in the seventh when left fielder L.J. Hoes made a stellar catch for the final out of the inning.
"After that bases-loaded situation, I think Kins wanted to get some payback," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "He had a good at-bat and obviously a huge hit."
Detroit trailed by one before Kinsler sent an 81 mph slider from Jerome Williams (1-4) to left-center for a 4-2 lead. Kinsler also had a double in his seventh straight multihit game and 33rd this season.
He said there’s no real secret to his recent success.
"I’ve been getting some hits to fall in. That always helps," he said. "And when you’ve got Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez hitting behind you, that always helps, too."
Nick Castellanos and Eugenio Suarez singled in the ninth before Kinsler connected. Suarez finished with three hits, including an RBI single in the fifth.
Scherzer, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner, gave up two runs in the first before settling in. He yielded seven hits and one walk in seven innings.
"Seven strong and had a bunch of strikeouts," Ausmus said. "That’s what we were hoping to see from Max Scherzer on a fairly regular basis."
Phil Coke (1-1) pitched a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan allowed a leadoff homer in the ninth before earning his 17th save in 22 chances.
Detroit bounced right back after its seven-game winning streak was snapped with a 4-3 loss to the Astros in 11 innings Friday night.
Astros manager Bo Porter used closer Chad Qualls to face the middle of the order in the eighth, leaving Williams, who has allowed at least one run in eight of his last 11 appearances, to pitch the ninth.
"I made the decision to bring in our best reliever in the eighth inning with the heart of their lineup coming up with the thought process of, we might get to the ninth and there might be nothing to save," Porter said. "We were not able to close it out in the ninth inning, but if you give me that situation again with that part of the lineup coming up, I’ll do the same thing."
Porter said he never considered sending Qualls out for a second inning because he pitched on Friday night, too.
Alex Presley had a two-run single in the first inning and added a solo homer in the ninth for Houston. Jose Altuve extended his tear at the plate, getting two hits with a pair of steals.
It was his major league-leading 34th multihit game this season and seventh in the last 10 games. Altuve leads the majors with 113 hits and the AL with 34 stolen bases.
Houston’s Brett Oberholtzer was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to make a spot start for Dallas Keuchel, who was scratched with inflammation in his left wrist. Oberholtzer allowed five hits and a run in 6 1-3 innings.
Astros rookies George Springer and Jon Singleton hit back-to-back singles with one out in the first inning. Springer advanced to third on Singleton’s hit, and Singleton reached second on the throw. Presley’s hit to center field scored them both to give Houston a 2-0 lead.
Castellanos drew a walk with one out in the seventh and Bryan Holaday singled to chase Oberholtzer. Suarez singled off Josh Zeid to load the bases before Rajai Davis grounded into a force at the plate. Hoes sprinted to make a diving catch on a ball hit by Kinsler to end that threat.
Scherzer had struck out five of six when Marwin Gonzalez singled to start the seventh. But he was caught trying to steal second.
It was the third time Scherzer has fanned at least 13 in his career. He had his most strikeouts since fanning a career-high 15 in 2012 against Pittsburgh.
NOTES: Porter said the Astros don’t think the problem with Keuchel is serious and they expect him to make his next scheduled start. … The series wraps up Sunday when Houston’s Scott Feldman opposes Drew Smyly. … Astros reliever Jake Buchanan, who picked up his first major league win Friday night, was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City to make room on the roster for Oberholtzer. … Houston center fielder Dexter Fowler was out of the lineup for the second straight game with tightness in his back. … Altuve became the first player in the majors to get multiple steals in three straight games since B.J. Upton did it for the Rays in 2009. It was Altuve’s fifth straight game with at least one steal, which ties a franchise record.