July 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Victor Martinez returns to Tigers lineup for series opener against Rays

Victor Martinez has a team-best 20 homers this season. (Robin Buckson / Detroit News)

Detroit After a three-game absence, designated hitter Victor Martinez is back in the lineup as the Tigers face the Rays on Thursday night at Comerica Park.

Martinez, who was out because of a strain in his side, will bat fourth for the resurgent Tigers, who have won three straight.

J.D. Martinez had hit cleanup while Victor Martinez was out.

Victor Martinez is batting .364 (98-for-269) with nine home runs and 47 RBI in 68 career games versus the Rays, sporting a .412 on-base percentage. He ranks third in the A.L. with a .323 average this season.

Rod.Beard@detroitnews.com

Twitter.com/detnewsRodBeard