• Tigers top Mariners, inch cloer to AL Central title
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     | September 17,2013
     
    AP Photo

    Detroit’s Victor Martinez hits a one-run single during Monday’s game against the Seattle Mariners in Detroit.

    DETROIT — Rick Porcello struck out 10 in six innings and the Detroit Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Monday night to move a step closer to their third straight AL Central title.

    Victor Martinez broke a 1-all tie in the sixth with a run-scoring single, and Omar Infante followed with his own RBI single.

    Porcello (13-8) allowed a run and five hits with two walks, falling one strikeout short of his career high. Drew Smyly got five outs in relief and Jose Veras finished the eighth.

    Joaquin Benoit pitched a hitless ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances.

    The Tigers entered with a five-game division lead over Cleveland.

    Joe Saunders (11-15) pitched well until the sixth, when he got two outs before a walk and three hits chased him from the game.

    Abraham Almonte homered for Seattle, which has lost seven of eight.

    It was tied at 1 in the sixth when Miguel Cabrera walked and Prince Fielder followed with a single. Martinez’s single up the line in right field scored Cabrera, and Infante lined a single to left to make it 3-1.

    That rally made a winner of Porcello, who has bounced back nicely after giving up eight earned runs in a 20-4 loss to Boston on Sept. 4.

    Porcello pitched his first career complete game in a win over the Chicago White Sox last Tuesday, and he was sharp against the punchless Mariners as well.

    The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Torii Hunter and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles, and Hunter came home on a wild pitch.

    After that mistake, Saunders quieted Detroit, allowing no more than one baserunner in any inning until the sixth.

    But it was a frustrating finish for Saunders, who allowed six runs over three innings in his previous start against Houston. He ended up yielding three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings this time.

    Tom Wilhelmsen relieved Saunders and got out of the sixth, but appeared to get hit in the right leg by Alex Avila’s leadoff single in the seventh. Wilhelmsen stayed in the game and eventually allowed an RBI single by Hunter with two outs.

    Justin Smoak’s RBI single off Smyly in the eighth made it 4-2.

    NOTES: Porcello struck out 11 against Pittsburgh on May 28. ... Smoak snapped an 0-for-17 slump with a fourth-inning single. ... Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (14-7) faces Seattle RHP Brandon Maurer (4-8) on Tuesday night.

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