DETROIT -- Seven hours after Duane Below finished pitching on Saturday, he helped the Detroit Tigers win a game.
With the Tigers getting blown out in the first game of a doubleheader against Texas, Below pitched six scoreless innings of relief to save Detroit's bullpen.
Detroit still lost the game 10-4, but Below's outing left enough fresh arms in the bullpen that the top three relievers -- Octavio Dotel, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde -- could finish off a 3-2 victory in the nightcap.
"We only won the second game tonight because of Duane Below, and I told him that as soon as I came out of the game," Justin Verlander said. "He did a hell of a job in the first game, and because of him, when I only went six innings, we could go with Dotel, Benoit and Valverde. That's the way we want to finish games."
Jim Leyland agreed, praising Below's effort after first-game starter Rick Porcello gave up nine runs without getting an out in the second inning. Below only allowed four baserunners in his stint -- the longest by a Tigers reliever in eight years.
"That was a freak thing this morning -- Rick just didn't have anything," he said. "That's not just a championship-level team, that's a championship-level team that is really hot. That's a good combination for them and a bad combination for everyone facing them.
"It was a tough chore for Below to shut them down, but he did a very nice job."
Below wasn't the only unexpected star on Saturday. With the game tied at 1 in the fourth inning of the nightcap, and the Tigers struggling to hit Neftali Feliz, Santiago looped a two-run single to leftfield for what turned out to be the winning runs.
"Santiago has done a heck of a job for us over the years, and he came through with a huge, huge hit right there," Leyland said. "We ground out a lot of tough at-bats in that inning, but Santiago's was obviously the biggest."
Feliz, the Texas closer last season, pitched the first complete game of his professional career. He allowed three hits and only allowed two baserunners after the fourth inning, so Santiago's single turned out to be Detroit's last good scoring chance.
"He still throws like a closer -- he's hitting 97 and he's got all the same pitches," Santiago said. "He threw me a changeup on the first pitch, and I barely fouled it off. I told myself to focus and get something I could hit. The next time he threw me a changeup, I was able to get a good swing on it and drive through the ball, just like I wanted."
Verlander gave the Tigers two more innings and the three relievers were good for one each, giving Detroit a split that seemed pretty sweet to Leyland.
"Give our pitchers a lot of credit, because that's a great offense that doesn't give you anything," he said. "Now if we can get something out of (Drew) Smyly, we can get out of this series with a split, which would be pretty good considering the way that team is playing."
NOTES: Dotel made the 700th appearance of his career, becoming the 93rd pitcher to reach that milestone. Dotel is the only player in major-league history to have played for 13 different teams. "Seven hundred games and 13 teams, and he still looks pretty good," Leyland said. "Something has worked for him." ... As planned, Miguel Cabrera was the DH in the second game, with Don Kelly starting at third base. On Sunday, Prince Fielder is scheduled to be the designated hitter with Kelly playing first. "I just want to get those guys off their feet for a bit. I told Austin (Jackson) that he can have Monday off," Leyland said, referring to Detroit's day off.