Seven-run fifth lifts Tigers over Marlins

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Detroit — The Tigers picked up right where they left off against the Cleveland Indians.

And Miami Marlins left-hander Adam Conley picked up right where he left off against the Tigers.

"He struck out six straight batters, then it got rained out," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said of a game against Conley and the Marlins during spring training. "He was looking deadly."

Conley struck out six through two innings Tuesday night at Comerica Park, eight through three and nine through 4 1/3 — and then the Tigers, fresh off a three-game whipping at the hands of the Cleveland Indians, woke up, even if only for an inning.

No matter, it was enough.

BOX SCORE: Tigers 7, Marlins 5

Detroit scored seven times in the fifth inning on the strength of three non-solo homers, in beating the Marlins, 7-5, to move back to one game over .500 for the 16th time this season.

Jose Iglesias, Miguel Cabrera and Nick Castellanos homered in the fifth inning, as the Tigers saw seven consecutive batters reach to perk up the crowd of 30,808.

"Kept the line moving," said Castellanos, who finished a double shy of the cycle. "That was a fun inning to be a Tiger."

The Tigers haven't had many fun innings lately, especially against teams with winning records, like the Marlins, who jumped out to a 3-0 lead against an ineffective Mike Pelfrey (2-7).

The Tigers bats were listless, Pelfrey was sticking to his typical script of allowing more than two baserunners an inning, and Detroit's defense loooked rather lost.

Then came the fifth inning, and all was forgotten.

"That was fun," Pelfrey said. "That was good to see."

Conley retired the first batter in the fifth, James McCann, on a strikeout.

Then Mike Aviles walked, and Iglesias followed with a no-doubt homer to left. His three home runs this season — off Max Scherzer, Chris Sale and, now, Conley — tie a career high.

Ian Kinsler doubled, followed by a Cameron Maybin walk. Then Cabrera, who struck out his first two times up and faced a 3-2 count this time, crushed a change-up deep into the night in left.

"He can hit those as far as anyone," Ausmus said. "You could tell, those last two at-bats ... he kind of went into battle mode with two strikes."

That was it for Conley (4-5), and it completed for Cabrera the rare feat of homering against all 30 major-league teams.

He now has one against the two teams he's played for, the Tigers (off Gary Knotts in June 2004) and the Marlins, and lots against everyone else.

"He's obviously one of the best right-handed hitters that I've ever seen," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He's extremely dangerous. We know it.

"The thing over there is they've got Victor (Martinez) right behind him. It's not exactly like you can say, 'Hey, we're not going after Miguel' there."

Nick Wittgren came in for Conley, and didn't fare much better.

Martinez got him started with a single through the shift on the right side — twice he beat the shift despite still pulling the ball — followed by a Castellanos blast high, deep, into the shrubs beyond the wall in center field, just beyond the grasp of center fielder Marcell Ozuna. It was the first home run into the shrubs for Castellanos.

And that's a badge he'll wear with honor.

"Proud to be a part of it," Castellanos said of that club. "I knew I hit it pretty good. But this park has swallowed a lot of balls I've hit pretty good."

The Tigers had seven runs on five hits in the inning.

In the other seven innings, they scored no runs on four hits — two of which belonged to Castellanos, a triple and a single, and if not for a nice grab by the Ichiro Suzuki in right field in the fourth inning, Castellanos might have had his double for the cycle.

Still, it was enough to make a winner out of Pelfrey, who was back after a brief cameo in the bullpen — and, armed with a sinker that wasn't sinking, allowed 12 hits and a walk in his 5 1/3 innings (2.438 WHIP). He allowed four runs, two on a home run by Giancarlo Stanton, also into the shrubs, in the second inning. The Marlins then loaded the bases in the second with nobody out, but Pelfrey got out of it, thanks to a well-timed 3-2-3 double play started by Miguel Cabrera. That was a play Ausmus called a game-changer, and Pelfrey agreed.

"It could've been a lot worse tonight," Pelfrey said. "It could've been better, too."

Iglesias also made a nifty grab and throw to get Pelfrey out of a jam in the fourth inning, even if the defense did have three errors behind him through the first five innings.

Christian Yelich led off with a double in the fifth and advanced on a booted ball by Justin Upton, then he scored on a single by Stanton, who took second on a booted ball by Aviles.

Pelfrey's final run scored after he was out of the game in the sixth, on a Yelich single off Bruce Rondon, who still left to cheers in the seventh inning. Shane Greene was more dicey in his inning, the eighth, allowing two long fly balls, one for a sacrifice fly to Martin Prado and then one to Yelich that looked like it might leave the yard to tie the score before Upton caught it just in front of the fence.

Francisco Rodriguez worked around a two-out walk in the ninth to earn his 21st save, as the Tigers bounced back from an ugly weekend against the Indians — even if it took just one good inning to do it.

"I think a lot of people, they get so emotional and caught up in one particular game, one particular series," Ausmus said. "When you're in the game, you understand there's a bigger picture. You win four in a row, you hear, 'Let's get fitted for World Series rings.' You lose four in a row and the season's over. I think people involved in the game, the players, the coaches, myself, are a little more tempered.

"We've been through the swings, and there've been some swings." @tonypaul1984