Tigers beat Cardinals in Lakeland

Peralta homers twice against former team

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Jhonny Peralta homered twice against his former team, going deep in his only plate appearances Monday in the St. Louis Cardinals' 8-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

 Peralta played for the Tigers for three and a half seasons before signing with St. Louis as a free agent this offseason.

He said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny asked a couple days earlier if he wanted to make the spring training trip to Lakeland to face Detroit. Peralta accepted that offer -- then made his visit worthwhile with two solo homers off left-hander Drew Smyly.

Nick Castellanos homered for the Tigers. Castellanos, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Austin Jackson had two hits apiece.

 Detroit, which played a 10-inning scoreless tie against Atlanta on Sunday, scored seven runs in the first three innings Monday.

The Detroit Tigers are very much Brad Ausmus' team now.

Ausmus took over as manager after Jim Leyland stepped down in the offseason and, with opening day four weeks away, the new leader in the Tigers' dugout is striking a delicate balance between new ideas and steady continuity.

There are plenty of obvious contrasts between the 44-year-old Ausmus and his predecessor. Leyland has been involved in baseball for over a half-century. Ausmus hasn't even been alive that long.

 Although he'll have an experienced roster to work with, Ausmus does face a challenge, trying to instill elements of his own philosophy for a team that may not need to change all that much to remain atop the AL Central.

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