Home runs help Tigers to win over Braves
Tigers 7, Braves 4
Omar Infante and Jhonny Peralta both hit two-run homers, and Rick Porcello bounced back from a nightmarish start last weekend to pitch into the seventh inning, helping the Detroit Tigers to a 7-4 win over the Atlanta Braves on Saturday.
Infante's homer off Kris Medlen (1-3) broke a 3-all tie in the fourth. Porcello (1-2) allowed three runs in 6 1-3 innings. He didn't make it through the first last Saturday at Los Angeles, when he gave up nine runs to the Angels.
Atlanta's Justin Upton hit his major league-leading 12th homer in the eighth, but Infante doubled home a run in the bottom half and scored to make it 7-4.
Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his second save since returning to the Tigers earlier in the week.
Medlen became a regular starter for the Braves during the last couple months of last season. He was terrific down the stretch in 2012, and it looked as if this year he'd picked up where he left off. But he allowed five runs Saturday, matching a career worst.
Peralta opened the scoring with his two-run shot in the second. Atlanta answered the following inning, when Porcello walked Dan Uggla with the bases loaded, allowed another run on Upton's grounder and gave up an RBI single by Freddie Freeman.
The Tigers tied it in the bottom of the third. With men on first and third and one out, Miguel Cabrera hit a grounder up the middle. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons shoveled the ball to second, but Uggla wasn't able to hold on. The play was scored a single, and a run came home.
Infante's homer came on an 0-2 pitch — after Alex Avila drew a two-out walk to keep the fourth inning going.
Left-hander Drew Smyly, who was beaten out by Porcello in a spring training competition for the final spot in the Detroit rotation, came on in relief in the seventh and struck out the only two hitters he faced.
Joaquin Benoit allowed Upton's homer in the eighth, but Detroit came back with a couple insurance runs. Infante's one-out double made it 6-4, and after he stole third, Austin Jackson walked. Cabrera's two-out single to center gave the Tigers a three-run lead.
The Tigers were prepared to let Valverde leave as a free agent after he struggled at the end of last season, but they brought him back on a minor league deal and eventually called him up this week.
He worked a 1-2-3 ninth for a save against Kansas City, and Saturday's appearance was even more impressive. He struck out B.J. Upton and Juan Francisco to end it.
The Braves are 3-7 since their 12-1 start.
Medlen and fellow starter Paul Maholm were breezing through the early part of the season for the Braves before coming to Detroit. Then Maholm was knocked around in a 10-0 loss to the Tigers on Friday, and Medlen allowed 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings the following afternoon.
Porcello, on the other hand, left to a standing ovation in the seventh. He couldn't match Anibal Sanchez — who set a franchise record for Detroit the previous night with 17 strikeouts — but this was a step in the right direction.