Tigers 10, Orioles 6
Brad Penny walked back to the dugout after finishing his final start of the regular season, and a few home fans stood and applauded.
It wasn't the easiest season for the burly Detroit right-hander, but he made his contribution to the AL Central champions.
''It's been a long road for me, but I'm blessed to have been healthy this year and get the innings,'' Penny said. ''Whatever happens, I want this team to win. This team can win.''
Penny allowed three runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings Sunday, helping the Tigers to a 10-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles. Penny could be the odd man out when Detroit sets its postseason rotation, but this was his 31st start of the season. He made only nine with St. Louis last year before being sidelined with a back injury.
Although his 5.30 ERA is nothing to write home about, Penny (11-11) has thrown 181 2-3 innings, his most since 2007.
''It was a little inconsistent,'' Penny said. ''Half the year, I was really not where I should have been strength-wise, probably.''
He had plenty of run support Sunday. Miguel Cabrera homered and singled, keeping the pressure on in his push for the American League batting title before leaving the game with lightheadedness. Manager Jim Leyland didn't seem worried about his slugger.
''He got dizzy,'' Leyland said. ''I just didn't want to take any chances.''
Cabrera came out after lining out to left field in the seventh inning - a trainer had checked on him in the middle of the at-bat. The slugger began the day one point behind Boston's Adrian Gonzalez, but raised his average from .339 to .341 and took over the league lead.
Brian Matusz (1-9) gave up six runs and seven hits in five innings.
Assuming he doesn't pitch again this year, Matusz will finish with a 10.69 ERA, a record high for a pitcher with at least 40 innings in a season, according to STATS LLC. Roy Halladay had a 10.64 ERA for Toronto in 2000.
''I'm going to have a lot of motivation going into this winter, because I'm never going to forget what this has felt like,'' Matusz said. ''I've got a lot of mistakes to learn from.''
The Tigers have clinched the AL Central and are now playing largely for playoff position and individual honors. Cabrera hit a two-run shot in the first inning, his 29th home run of the year, and Victor Martinez, Don Kelly and Jhonny Peralta added homers of their own for Detroit.
After Cabrera gave Detroit a 2-0 lead, Delmon Young hit an RBI single in the third to make it 3-0.
Baltimore scored three runs in the fifth to tie it. Pedro Florimon Jr. drove in two of them with a double, his first career hit.
Detroit immediately rallied back. After Cabrera hit a two-out single in the bottom of the inning, Martinez followed with a three-run homer to make it 6-3. Kelly added a three-run shot an inning later.
Nolan Reimold hit a three-run homer in the eighth for the Orioles - an estimated 434 feet to left-center - to make it 9-6. Peralta's solo shot in the bottom half gave Detroit another insurance run.
The Tigers are 27-9 since Aug. 19 and have pulled away from the rest of the AL Central. They are now hoping to beat out AL West champion Texas for the right to open the first round of the playoffs at home.
''Anywhere we have to go, it's still a ballpark,'' Martinez said. ''It doesn't matter. Definitely, it's nice to start at home, but if we don't, it's not the end of the world.''
Notes: Leyland said second baseman Carlos Guillen (strained right calf) isn't ready to return yet. ... Detroit's Magglio Ordonez extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a third-inning single. ... Baltimore's Vladimir Guerrero went 0 for 4 and remained tied with Julio Franco for the career lead in hits by a Dominican-born player. Both have 2,586. ... The Tigers will send Doug Fister (10-13) to the mound Monday night against Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez (4-3) to begin the final series of the regular season. ... Baltimore hosts Boston for three games. The Orioles will send Tommy Hunter (4-4) to the mound Monday night to face Josh Beckett (13-6).