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AL Central-leading Tigers edge Mariners 5-4

Posted: September 20, 2013 - 12:06am
Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder (28) slides home safely past the tag of Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, right, in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)  Paul Sancya
Paul Sancya
Detroit Tigers' Prince Fielder (28) slides home safely past the tag of Seattle Mariners catcher Mike Zunino, right, in the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

DETROIT — Seattle manager Eric Wedge intentionally walked Victor Martinez twice — and still watched his team lose on an extra-base hit by the Detroit slugger.

Martinez’s double scored Prince Fielder from first in the seventh inning, sending the Tigers to a 5-4 victory over the Mariners on Thursday. It was the second double of the game for Martinez, who is hitting .367 since the All-Star break.

“I’ve known him a long time, and I know all the ways he can beat you,” Wedge said. “The last time, there wasn’t anywhere to put him because Prince was on first, and he did what he’s done for years. He’s just a great hitter.”

Detroit trailed 4-3 after Seattle’s Dustin Ackley hit a three-run homer in the fifth, but Fielder’s RBI single in the seventh tied it. Then he scored from first when Martinez doubled off Charlie Furbush (2-6). The Mariners argued what was a close call at the plate.

“It was a bang-bang play,” Wedge said. “(Catcher Mike Zunino) did a great job of getting the throw and making it close.”

Torii Hunter homered for the Tigers. Doug Fister (13-9) struck out 10 in 7 2-3 innings. Drew Smyly got one out, and Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect ninth for his 22nd save in 22 chances. Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias left after being hit on the left hand by a pitch in the sixth inning. X-rays were negative.

Seattle scored a run in the first on an RBI single by Raul Ibanez. Hunter tied it in the bottom half with a solo shot, and Martinez added an RBI double later in the inning.

Seattle intentionally walked Martinez in the third with men on second and third, but starter James Paxton walked Omar Infante on four pitches to force in a run and make it 3-1.

“That’s just a case of him trying to be too perfect with his pitches,” Wedge said. “He’s just got to trust his stuff in that situation, but that will come.”

Fister allowed four runs and nine hits with one walk. His only major mistake was a pitch to Ackley in the fifth that the Seattle outfielder hit over the wall in right for his fourth homer of the year.

“I had a 2-0 count, and that’s not going to happen very often with Doug. He’s always right on the plate, and once he gets a couple strikes on you, he’s got a bunch of pitches that he can make you chase,” Ackley said. “So when I got ahead, I was trying to be aggressive, and he left a changeup in the middle of the plate. It was nice to see him do that for once.”

Fister was traded from Seattle to Detroit in 2011. Furbush went to the Mariners in the deal.

Paxton had won his first two major league starts earlier this month. He allowed three runs and five hits in five innings against Detroit.

“He didn’t have the same stuff he’s had in the last two starts, and that probably made this one more impressive,” Wedge said. “It’s tough to pitch against that team without your best stuff, and he gave us a chance to win the game.”

Fielder added some levity in the top of the fifth. After unsuccessfully chasing after a foul ball that dropped near the stands, he took what looked like a nacho from one of the fans near the front and ate it, while receiving a pat on the back from another fan.

“Thought about dipping in the cheese, but he might double dip,” Fielder joked. “I don’t think he even noticed it.”

NOTES: Martinez, usually Detroit’s DH, started at catcher for the third time this season. ... Tigers pitchers have 1,323 strikeouts, five more than the previous team record set last year. ... Detroit hosts the Chicago White Sox on Friday night. Tigers RHP Max Scherzer (19-3) faces RHP Andre Rienzo (2-2). Seattle RHP Erasmo Ramirez (5-2) faces Los Angeles Angels RHP Jered Weaver (10-8).

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