July 8, 2014 at 1:00 am

Tigers 14, Dodgers 5

Tigers, Justin Verlander weather rough start to rout Dodgers

Detroit — About the hitting the Tigers did all night, we could talk all day.

Down 5-0 to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the first inning on Tuesday night, the Tigers had tied the game by the second.

They were in front to stay by the third.

They’d scored 11 runs by the fourth.

And eventually won 14-5 on the strength of 16 singles, two doubles and two triples: J.D. Martinez’s first as a Tiger and Miguel Cabrera’s first of the season, but just his second in the last four years.

After the game, manager Brad Ausmus kidded that when Don Kelly took over at first base following Cabrera’s triple in the seventh, it was because “I figured he was exhausted.”

The Dodgers’ Juan Uribe hit the only home run the game — in the top of the first when it looked like it was going to be a long night for Justin Verlander, which it actually was.

But only because he had several long innings to sit through while his teammates were circling the bases.

None of the damage was done by Victor Martinez, who was out again with a sore right side and who is no guarantee to play in Wednesday’s game.

It never hurts for the Tigers to remind themselves, however, that not only can they win without their leading hitter, but that they can win big.

“We swung the bats well,” Ausmus said. “I thought we did against David Price (on Sunday night), too, and hit a lot of balls hard that didn’t find spots.

“Tonight, we hit balls hard that found spots and some not-so-hard that also found spots. It was a nice change of fortune for us.”

Among the hitting highlights was the way the bottom half of the lineup produced.

Make no mistake, a lot of Tigers, from top to bottom, had a lot of hits. But through the fourth, the 6-9 hitters in the lineup were 8-for-8 with six RBIs.

Five Tigers ended up with three-hit games, though: Cabrera, J.D. Martinez, Torii Hunter, Nick Castellanos and Rajai Davis.

It also helped that the Tigers won a key challenge at second base to start the bottom of what turned out to be their five-run second.

After a two-minute, 37-second review, Hunter was ruled safe with a double. He said he thought he was safe because of a high tag.

“He got me on the babymaker,” he said.

Ausmus said, however, “that’s how replays change the game. It probably changes the entire inning.”

While there was ample reason to feel good about the offensive display, it was a good day for the Verlander brothers as well.

The Verlander brothers?

Justin and his kid bro Ben — both of whom, at different levels, seem to be in the sometimes tedious process of persevering this season.

Not everything has gone the way they’ve wanted it, but both of them stared at adversity on Tuesday — but refused to let it get the better of them.

Nine years younger than his big brother, Ben Verlander — the outfielder in the family — recently was dropped a notch in the Tigers’ organization.

From West Michigan where he hit .208 with one home run and 23 RBI in 56 games and was no longer playing on a regular basis, Verlander was sent back to Connecticut of the New-York Penn League, which is where he played last year.

In his first nine games at Connecticut, he was hitting .273 with no home run and three RBIs.

However, after Tuesday’s game, an 18-4 victory over Tri-City, Verlander is hitting .342 with two home runs and 10 RBIs - because he went 4-for-5, with two home runs (one of them a grand slam) and seven RBI.

When asked by MILB.com’s Sam Dykstra if it was his best day as a professional, Ben Verlander said, “Yeah, I think it is, I’d definitely say it’s the best I’ve felt on the field as a pro.”

That was a morning game, an 11 a.m. start, to be exact.

Justin Verlander didn’t match brother Ben’s best day, but he rescued his own from being a bad one as he improved his record to 8-7.

“The big thing is that he walked away from the game with a good taste,” Ausmus said. “It gives him a positive frame of mind.”

Hearing a few boos while leaving the mound after allowing five runs in the first, Justin knew full well he was down, but not out before his teammates had even hit.

It had been a terrible inning for him, but it wasn’t his undoing. He held the Dodgers scoreless over the next five innings, and won a second consecutive start for the first time since April.

“My brother had a day to remember,” said Justin — after avoiding one he would have wanted to forget.

tom.gage@detroitnews.com
twitter.com/Tom_Gage

The Tigers' Alex Avila, left, congratulates Miguel Cabrera after Cabrera scores on a single by Nick Castellanos to make it 8-5 in the fourth inning Tuesday at Comerica Park. / Robin Buckson / Detroit News