Aaron Hill gave the Toronto Blue Jays one of their more satisfying wins in a trying season.
Hill hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth inning, capping the Blue Jays‘ come-from-behind 8-6 victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers.
“It’s great to see us keep coming back,” Hill said.
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Rod Barajas, Vernon Wells and Marco Scutaro also went deep for Toronto (65-77), which handed the AL Central-leading Tigers their fifth straight loss. They lead the Chicago White Sox by five games.
“I think it’s a case that you never have the appreciation of how hard it is to win games up here,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “And I think we’re struggling through that a little bit right now.”
Miguel Cabrera, Curtis Granderson and Alex Avila homered for Detroit.
The Blue Jays tied it at 6 in the eighth on Brandon Lyon‘s wild pitch that allowed Wells to score from third. He was there because he alertly advanced from second on Barajas’ foul pop that Cabrera, at first, had to make a running catch on right at the fence behind first base. With Cabrera’s momentum going the other way, Wells tagged and moved to third.
“On that kind of play I always go back and tag up, no matter what, just in case,” Wells said.
Scutaro singled with two out in the ninth. He then stole second before Hill drilled Fernando Rodney‘s 3-1 pitch down the left-field line for his 32nd homer.
“I was looking for a fastball, you have to when a guy can throw that hard,” Hill said. “But he threw a changeup and it was up.”
Hill, who leads the A.L. with 299 total bases, only rejoined the Blue Jays on Friday night after being in Florida for three games for the birth of his first child.
Rodney (2-4) allowed two runs and two hits while getting just two outs. He also walked a batter.
Brandon League (3-5) pitched two perfect innings. Jason Frasor got the final out, with runners on first and third, for his 10th save in 12 chances.
Cabrera’s three-run homer off Scott Richmond gave the Tigers a 6-3 lead in the fifth. The drive estimated at 420 feet was his 29th home run and ended Richmond’s night.
Richmond gave up six runs on five hits in 4 1-3 innings, walking four and striking out three.
“Plain and simple it’s lack of fastball command,” Richmond said.
Wells immediately cut the deficit to two when he went deep to lead off the sixth for his 14th homer and Scutaro’s two-out shot in the seventh, his 12th, made it 6-5.
Granderson hit the 23rd leadoff homer of his career, tying him with Lou Whitaker for the Tigers‘ record.
Barajas’ two-run blast in the top of the second put Toronto up 2-1. Barajas followed Lyle Overbay‘s leadoff walk with a drive to left-center on Jackson’s 2-1 pitch for his 18th homer of the season and second in two games.
But Avila’s two-run shot in the bottom of the second restored Detroit’s lead. He hit Richmond’s 2-0 pitch deep into the right-field stands for his fifth homer. It also scored Clete Thomas, who led off with a single.
Scutaro’s RBI single in the fifth tied it at 3.
Tigers‘ starter Edwin Jackson allowed five runs and eight hits – including three home runs – in seven innings, walking one and striking out four.
“They were ready for the fastball all night, but those two (to Wells and Scutaro) were just up,” Jackson said.
NOTES: Detroit LHP Nate Robertson, who started Friday night’s game but left in the fourth inning because of an injury, has pelvic inflammation according to a MRI. He will be re-evaluated in a few days. … Toronto LF Adam Lind didn’t play on Saturday night after being hit in the leg with a pitch on Friday night. … Hill also broke the single-season Toronto record for RBIs by a second baseman with 95. Roberto Alomar held the old record of 93. Hill had 94 RBIs coming into the game but one was as a pinch-hitter.