ST. LOUIS (AP) — Miguel Cabrera’s bat gave the Detroit Tigers a smashing start. His under-rated defense helped save them late.
Cabrera hit his 400th career home run and turned a nifty double play with a catch near the first base stands followed by an on-target throw in a 4-3, 10-inning victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday.
“He’s definitely the best hitter in baseball and he’s hands down the smartest player in baseball as well,” starter David Price said. “He’s pretty special.”
Cabrera’s milestone shot gave him the most homers by a Venezuelan-born player, passing Andres Galarraga. The solo shot came in the first inning just before a rain delay of 1 hour, 20 minutes.
“That means a lot to me,” Cabrera said about the milestone. “But I just want to win and play games.”
Nearly five hours later, Jose Iglesias had an RBI single for the go-ahead hit.
Cabrera has hit four homers in three games, 10 overall and 262 with Detroit, tying him with Willie Horton for fourth on the franchise list. Cabrera said he wasn’t sure if he got the 400th home run ball back.
Adrian Beltre of Texas hit his 400th homer Friday. Cabrera tied Beltre for 52nd place on the career list, with Duke Snider next at 407.
The Cardinals had a man on second with none out in the eighth when Cabrera caught a foul popup near the stands. He wheeled and threw out pinch runner Pete Kozma, who was trying to tag up and advance to third.
“It was a crazy play,” Cabrera said. “We know the Cardinals play aggressive and we’ve got to be ready for anything.”
“Now,” Kozma said, “I know he can make it.”
Price threw only a couple of pitches before the rain delay. He surrendered three homers, matching the total he’d allowed his first seven starts, but all were with the bases empty on changeups.
“It was some good swings on some pitches down the middle of the plate, and that’s what good hitters do,” Price said. “‘It’s a tough game.”
Matt Carpenter, Peter Bourjos and Jhonny Peralta connected, but the Cardinals made three costly base-running goofs in the final three innings.
Blaine Hardy (1-0) struck out two with a walk in the ninth and Joakim Soria finished for his 12th save in 12 chances. Detroit, which pasted St. Louis 10-4 in the opener, will go for a three-game interleague sweep on Sunday.
Iglesias, the eighth-place hitter, flied out with the bases loaded to end the third and popped out with two on to finish the fifth. He came through with two outs in the 10th against Matt Belisle (1-1).
J.D. Martinez drew a leadoff walk and Yoenis Cespedes followed with a single. Two outs later, Iglesias singled.
The Cardinals blew a chance to take the lead in the seventh. Jason Heyward stayed near second base, waiting to tag up, and could only reach third when Randal Grichuk’s flyball hit the wall for a double.
Heyward said “apparently on second base, it was the worst seat in the house for that one.”
“I looked at the ball, checked the outfielder and I was thinking to myself `This is so high I think it’s either going to be gone or caught at the wall,” Heyward added. “Obviously, the ball didn’t get caught.”
With the Cardinals down a run, Matt Holliday was out trying to stretch a single to two bases leading off the 10th.
Carpenter’s seventh homer tied it in the bottom of the first, on just the second at-bat after play resumed following the delay. Bourjos had been 1 for 11 against Price before putting the Cardinals ahead in the second with his first homer.
Tigers: Alfredo Simon (4-1, 3.05) was 2-0 in three starts against St. Louis last year while with Cincinnati.
Cardinals: Lance Lynn (2-3, 3.27) is 28-13 with a 2.83 ERA at home.
Tigers: Pitcher Shane Greene underwent an MRI exam and Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said “concern is way down.” On Saturday, he was removed due to numbness in his pitching hand. Cespedes bent his glove thumb attempting a diving catch in the 10th.
Cardinals: Pitcher Jaime Garcia (shoulder) was back in St. Louis a day after throwing six innings in his second rehab start and could be close to rejoining the rotation.