Tigers 4, Astros 3

Associated Press  |  Last updated May 04, 2013
Alex Avila hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning, lifting the Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 win over the Houston Astros on Friday night. After Houston closer Jose Veras walked Don Kelly to open the inning, Avila hit a 3-1 pitch to deep center field and help the Tigers get their second straight win. Jose Altuve's RBI single in the seventh inning capped a three-run rally and gave the Astros a 3-2 lead. Houston, which has the worst record in the American League, lost its fourth in a row and eighth in the last nine games. Tigers left-hander Drew Smyly (2-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win, and Jose Valverde finished the ninth against his former team for his third save in three chances. For Veras (0-2) it was his second blown save in four opportunities. The Tigers, who won the series opener 7-3 in 14 innings on Thursday, have won seven of their last eight games. Astros right-hander Bud Norris struck out a season-high seven in seven innings, long enough for Houston hitters to figure out Detroit right-hander Doug Fister and make things interesting. Norris allowed two runs on five hits. He walked three, but was otherwise effective in keeping the Astros within striking distance. Fister, who had won his four previous decisions, pitched six innings of shutout ball, but things unraveled for the Tigers' right-hander in the seventh, with Detroit up 2-0. Matt Dominguez doubled on a line drive to left to lead off the bottom of the inning, and Rick Ankiel followed with a single to center that had Fister ducking and deflecting the ball with his glove. Marvin Gonzalez reached on an error by second baseman Omar Infante, allowing Dominguez to score, and Ankiel scored the tying run on Robbie Grossman's RBI single to left. That set the stage for Altuve, whose third hit of the night - this one a grounder to short - gave the Astros their short-lived lead and marked the end of Fister's outing. Fister was tagged for three runs, including two earned, on nine hits over six-plus innings. He struck out four while walking one. He was replaced by Smyly. Jhonny Peralta gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with an RBI single to left in the second inning. Victor Martinez made it 2-0 with an RBI single to the right-field wall in the fourth. Martinez thought he had a home run, as the ball appeared to bounce off the top of the wall and into the stands before being deflected back onto the field. However, the play was reviewed by the umpiring crew, who upheld with the initial call. NOTES: C Jason Castro was Houston's designated hitter, a night after catching all 14 innings. Castro entered the game on a nine-game hitting streak, batting .389 with six doubles in the process. ... Houston relievers Dallas Keuchel and Wesley Wright were unavailable after pitching the night before. ... CF Austin Jackson could have played, but Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave him the day off to rest his sore hamstrings. ... Leyland said RHP Octavio Dotel, on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation, is making progress and could go on a rehab stint soon.
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