Tigers 7, Rangers 2
Victor Martinez tried to be patient, hoping it was only a matter of time before his bat would start to look like a major threat again.
Now, he's downplaying what's been a terrific July so far.
''Been more lucky I think,'' Martinez said. ''I've been definitely putting good swings, putting good at-bats, and finally balls have started falling.''
Martinez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with an RBI double in the second inning, and the Detroit Tigers went on to a 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Friday night. Martinez also drew a bases-loaded walk in the first, when the Tigers scored five runs to break the game open early.
The Tigers scored four runs before making an out when their first six hitters reached base off Texas rookie Justin Grimm (7-7). Grimm held Detroit to two runs in 6 2-3 innings in a May outing, but the right-hander didn't fare nearly as well this time.
''We didn't know much about him (in May), and we were taking pitches, he was getting ahead in the count,'' Detroit outfielder Torii Hunter said. ''This time we just had a different attack plan, and went out there and we swung the bats, and we got him early.''
Doug Fister (7-5) allowed two runs in the fourth but was otherwise sharp for Detroit.
Martinez got off to a slow start after missing all of 2012 with a knee injury, but his season average is up to .261 now.
''I think the biggest key is these teammates I've got. They've been sticking with me,'' he said. ''I really believe that when I'm healthy, I can really help this team win ballgames.''
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly for his 95th RBI of the year.
A.J. Pierzynski homered and had three hits for the Rangers.
Jackson and Hunter started the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles for a 1-0 lead, and after a walk to Cabrera and a single by Fielder, Martinez drew a walk to force in a run.
Peralta followed with a two-run double to make it 4-0. After Andy Dirks struck out, Alex Avila's single scored Martinez.
Jackson led off with a single in the second, and after advancing to third on a single by Hunter, he scored on Cabrera's flyout.
One out later, Martinez doubled to left. The relay home appeared to beat Hunter, but the Detroit baserunner got his hand in with a nice slide.
''I've been doing that for a while,'' Hunter said jokingly. ''That's just athletic ability, instincts. Everybody's not born with it, I'm sorry.''
Grimm allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 3 1-3 innings. Just when the right-hander appeared to be settling in finally, he had to come out of the game in the fourth because of a sore right forearm.
''We'll have to see, but that was his last start before the break, so we'll have some time to get him OK,'' Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
Fister allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out five.
Texas scored twice in the fourth on a solo homer by Pierzynski and an RBI single by Jurickson Profar. But the Rangers left the bases loaded that inning and never got a better chance to get back in the game.
Detroit was coming off a heated 6-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox in which reliever Luke Putkonen and manager Jim Leyland were ejected amid a bench-clearing altercation in the sixth inning. Leyland was more than ready to move on Friday, and the Tigers wasted little time delighting the home crowd in this matchup of the teams that have represented the American League in the World Series for the last three years.
Bruce Rondon, Detroit's hard-throwing rookie reliever, came on to replace Fister and got four straight outs. He fanned Nelson Cruz on a 100-mph fastball to end the Texas seventh.
Drew Smyly relieved Rondon and got four outs for the Tigers, and Joaquin Benoit came on in a non-save situation and struck out Cruz with men on first and third to end it.
NOTES: Fielder's dribbler up the third-base line in the seventh resulted in a rare infield single for the Detroit slugger, in part because of a defensive shift. ... Texas 3B Adrian Beltre had his hitting streak snapped at 13 games. ... The Rangers signed LHP Sal Mendez, their 40th-round draft pick this year. ... Detroit's Max Scherzer (13-0) takes the mound Saturday night against Derek Holland (7-4) of Texas.