ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Austin Jackson had to run a lot harder than Prince Fielder for the same result.
Fielder got to jog around the bases after a go-ahead three-run home run for the Tigers, an inning before Jackson raced home for his first career inside-the-park homer in Detroit’s 6-2 victory over the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on Friday night.
“Yeah, they both count the same,” Fielder said with a laugh.
Jackson got his first career inside-the-park homer in the seventh inning after right fielder Nelson Cruz made a diving attempt to catch the ball, which bounced in front of him and then over his glove and to the wall.
By then, Jackson was in full stride and third-base coach Gene Lamont was waving him home.
“He had that look in his eyes like he wanted me to go, and he sent me,” Jackson said. “It’s one of those things, you don’t think it will ever happen like that.”
It was the Tigers’ first inside-the-park homer since Curtis Granderson five years ago. Texas hadn’t allowed one since Cleveland’s Grady Sizemore had one at Rangers Ballpark in Sept. 24, 2006.
Max Scherzer (11-6) struck out eight in six innings for his 10th win in his last 13 decisions since May 10.
Fielder 20th homer put the Tigers up 4-2 in the sixth and chased Scott Feldman (6-7), who had won his previous six decisions before the changeup that stayed right over the heart of the plate.
“When you have Prince in your lineup, you’re always one swing away from getting the game back in your favor,” Scherzer said. “That’s kind of what happened.”
The Tigers, who lost the ALCS in six games to Texas last October, have won 25 of 38 games since losing two straight on their last trip to Texas in late June.
Jackson, who is from nearby Denton, led off the fourth with a triple to right-center. He scored on Miguel Cabrera’s single, his 96th RBI that tied him again with Josh Hamilton of the Rangers for most in the majors.
Hamilton got his 96th RBI in the first inning with his 31st homer, a 419-foot shot to straightaway center that tied him with Adam Dunn of the White Sox for the major league lead.
“Scherzer was flirting with a little disaster early but he got settled in pretty good,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We got a couple of big hits and they didn’t.”
Detroit had two outs in the sixth before Andy Dirks reached on an infield single and Cabrera followed with a single. Fielder then pulled a pitch several rows deep into the stands in right. It is the seventh consecutive 20-homer season for Fielder, who is in the first year of a $214 million, nine-year deal with Detroit.
After Jackson’s inside-the-park homer, Cruz appeared to reach for his back but stayed in the game. Two batters later, he dropped Cabrera’s easy popup for an error that extended the inning.
Cruz didn’t take the field in the top of the eighth and the Rangers said he was out because of lower back stiffness.
“I don’t know if it affected him on the dropped ball, I just think he dropped it, but that’s a lot of poundage hitting the ground,” manager Ron Washington said. “He had a stiff back, so he came out, got some treatment, feeling better. I think he’ll be a player tomorrow, we’ve just got to wait and see.”
Feldman had won his previous six decisions after starting the season with six consecutive losses. He struck out two and walked one in 5 2-3 innings.
The Rangers said, according to Elias, the right-hander was only the second pitcher in major league history to win six consecutive decisions immediately after starting the season with a losing streak of six or more games. Doyle Alexander started 0-8 for the Yankees and Blue Jays in 1983 before winning his next seven decisions.
Texas led 2-0 in the third when Ian Kinsler had a leadoff double and scored on a single by Elvis Andrus, who was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double.
Adrian Beltre was hit by a pitch in the upper left leg with two outs in the third, then picked the ball up and tossed it back to Scherzer. Cruz and Michael Young followed with singles to load the bases but David Murphy’s flyout ended the inning.
Scherzer was never again in serious trouble. He struck out the last three batters of the sixth before coming out after 112 pitches.
“They were one or two hits away from probably knocking Scherzer out early,” Leyland said. “He kind of gathered himself and pitched very well.”
NOTES: Scherzer is 11-3 in 17 career games vs. AL West teams. He is 4-0 in seven starts against the Rangers in regular-season games. … CF Hamilton had a sliding catch in the fifth that turned into an inning-ending double play because Alex Avila couldn’t get back to first base. … Avila extended his hitting streak to 11 games with two hits. … Young had three hits and has a 10-game hitting streak.