Detroit — Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez sat at his locker, pondering the hitting streak he's been on of late.
After belting the go-ahead home run to lead off the eighth inning and pushing the Tigers to a 5-4 win over the White Sox at Comerica Park, Martinez wasn't ready to say that he's on a good streak or swinging a hot bat.
"To be honest with you, it's kind of hard to say. If I say no, everyone's going to be like, 'You're crazy, this and that,' " he said. "But honestly, it just feels like I'm getting maybe one hit a game but it just happens to be a home run. So it's kind of one of those things right now where I can't explain it.
"You just hit the ball and it's a home run; it's just weird — it's not like something I'm trying to do every time I go up there. It's just how it is."
It was the 19th home run for Martinez, who has six in his last five games, including three against the Yankees on Sunday. Martinez's power provided a boost for the Tigers, who trailed three times Friday, before Rajai Davis tied it with a home run in the seventh, setting the table for the go-ahead blast in the eighth.
Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez was up and down, giving up three home runs — to Adam Eaton in the first inning, Jose Abreu in the third and Tyler Flowers in the seventh — but only allowed three other hits.
"The old adage is that solo home runs never beat you, but it came close tonight," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I wouldn't call this a bad outing."
Sanchez lasted seven innings, allowing four earned runs, with two walks and seven strikeouts. With no decision, Sanchez ended his streak of three straight wins. Bruce Rondon, who took over for Sanchez, pitched a 1-2-3 eighth to hold off the White Sox.
"It might not have been as sharp as his previous few outings but generally speaking with our offense, four runs in seven innings out of a starter will produce more wins than losses," Ausmus said.
Joakim Soria got his 17th save, despite giving up a leadoff double to Avisail Garcia and a one-out single to pinch-hitter J.B. Shuck before Carlos Sanchez popped a bunt attempt to Miguel Cabrera and Eaton grounded out to end it.
Ausmus marveled at Martinez's ability to come up with big hits, a trend he started last season. But now, he's showing it not only at Comerica Park, but on the road and in critical situations.
"He certainly was last year and he had some big homers. That was a big one tonight," Ausmus said. "He's a threat when he steps in the box to hit a ball out. It doesn't matter what stadium; it doesn't matter what field."
The White Sox jumped ahead on Eaton's leadoff home run in the first. He also led off Thursday's game with a home run, becoming the first White Sox player to hit a leadoff home run in back-to-back days since Kenny Lofton in 2002.
But the Tigers tied it on a single by Ian Kinsler and an RBI double by Cabrera — the first of his three doubles.
The White Sox jumped ahead on the solo home run by Abreu in the third and the Tigers responded with back-to-back singles by Martinez and Nick Castellanos; they tied it on an RBI single by Jose Iglesias.
"The only ball that I missed was against Abreu. I think it was a really good pitch," Sanchez said. "Sometimes you need to tip your cap and give some credit to the hitter. He put a good swing on that ball and that's why he was able to put it out."
The Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on a two-out single by Victor Martinez and an RBI triple by Yoenis Cespedes. The White Sox tied it on a one-out double by Adam LaRoche, followed by an RBI triple by Melky Cabrera. But Sanchez was able to get out of the inning by striking out Garcia and getting Conor Gillaspie to ground out.
Despite some struggles, Sanchez felt good about his outing, building on his last three straight wins.
"I feel good, especially that I went through seven innings with those (White Sox hitters)," he said. "They're really good hitters. They put pressure on the situations in every inning. It's not that we got the lead (and that was it)."