DETROIT (AP) — The Tigers needed something big after falling below .500 and facing a double-digit deficit in the AL Central.
They got it from Ian Kinsler on Monday night.
One day after being ejected for throwing a bat in the direction of an umpire, Kinsler homered twice, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the eighth inning, as the Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners 5-4.
"It’s always fun to win a game late," Kinsler said. "You have to start somewhere, and hopefully we can take off from here and get the ball rolling."
Kinsler, who came into the game with three home runs this season, hit one off Seattle starter J.A. Happ in the first, and then drove a fastball from Mark Lowe over the Tigers’ bullpen with two outs in the eighth. It was his first multi-homer game since Sept. 7, 2011.
Kinsler and Lowe played together in Texas from 2010-12 and remain friends.
"He’s got a good fastball, he’s 96, 97, and he’s got a good slider," Kinsler said. "He made a mistake, I got a good pitch and I was lucky enough to put enough to put a good swing on it."
Lowe (0-1) hadn’t allowed an earned run in his last 12 outings, dating back to June 14, but Jose Iglesias doubled with one out, took third on a grounder and scored on the home run.
"I threw him three straight sliders to make it 1-2, but he’s a good low-ball hitter, so I wanted to throw a fastball up and away," Lowe said. "But I didn’t get it up, and it tailed right back into his swing path."
Al Alburquerque (1-0) picked up his first decision in 60 outings, pitching a scoreless eighth inning. Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his 21st save.
Kinsler’s late homer got Alfredo Simon off the hook. Simon gave up four runs, six hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings. Simon has allowed at least four runs in an AL-high six straight starts, posting a 10.25 ERA while averaging fewer than five innings per outing.
"He’s had a rough five outings, and I think he can return to form," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "There’s no reason to believe he can’t."
Happ, making his first start in 11 days, allowed three runs on four hits and two walks in seven innings.
"He did a great job," McClendon said. "His pitch count wasn’t up, but between the layoff and Lowe doing what he has been doing, we didn’t even think about sending him out there for the eighth."
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first on Kinsler’s high flyball to left that rode a strong breeze into the Detroit bullpen.
Seattle loaded the bases in the second on Seth Smith’s double, a walk and a Logan Morrison infield single that hit Simon on the right hip.
Mike Zunino then doubled off the 420-foot sign in center field, with the ball just eluding Rajai Davis’s leap. Two runs scored, but Morrison only made it to third and Simon got out of the jam without further damage.
"We have to at least have the option to score three runs on that play," McClendon said. "(Morrison) got botched up between first and second, but he’s got to give us a chance to send him. Maybe he’s not fast enough, but he’s got to be closer."
James McCann’s two-run double put the Tigers back in front in the bottom of the second, but Robinson Cano’s solo homer made it 3-3 in the fifth.
Zunino, who entered the game hitting .111 with two RBIs in July, put Seattle ahead in the sixth with a single that drove home former Tiger Austin Jackson.
Mariners: LHP Charlie Furbush (biceps strain) threw long toss Monday afternoon, including some throws from 60 feet on flat ground. If Furbush does not experience discomfort, he could throw a bullpen session as soon as Wednesday.
Tigers: DH Victor Martinez took grounders at shortstop during batting practice Monday, but isn’t planning to move to the middle infield. Martinez, who has not played in the field this year because of knee problems, is hoping to be able to spell Miguel Cabrera at first base when Cabrera returns from a calf injury.
The teams play the second of a four-game series Tuesday night, with Seattle’s Taijuan Walker (7-7, 4.84) facing Detroit’s Shane Greene (4-7, 6.32). Walker faced the Tigers for the first time on July 7, getting a no decision after allowing five earned runs in six innings.