Tigers lose slugfest

By NOAH TRISTER

AP Baseball Writer

DETROIT – Anibal Sanchez was having enough trouble keeping the ball in the park.

Then he went up against the major league leaders in home runs.

Evan Gattis and Preston Tucker both homered off Sanchez in the sixth inning, and the Houston Astros slugged their way to another victory Sunday, rallying past the Detroit Tigers 10-8.

“I thought all my pitches were working well today. Even the two homers were both down – really down – and they just put good swings on them,” Sanchez said. “(Gattis) was a slider down, and the other guy hit a changeup that was down. You have to give them credit.”

Sanchez has allowed 11 home runs this year – after he gave up 13 over the previous two seasons combined.

The AL West-leading Astros have hit a major league-leading 64 home runs. They won the last two games of this four-game series to salvage a split.

The Astros trailed 7-3 before scoring four runs in the sixth, including Tucker’s three-run shot as a pinch hitter that tied the game. The following inning, Jason Castro lined a tiebreaking two-run single with the bases loaded and two out.

Joe Thatcher (1-1) got the win by pitching the sixth – the first of four innings of work by the Houston bullpen. Luke Gregerson allowed a homer to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth, but held on for his 12th save in 13 chances.

Detroit reliever Alex Wilson (1-1) took the loss.

Detroit led 5-3 after a wild first inning. Sanchez and Houston starter Roberto Hernandez settled in a bit after that, but both were out of the game by the bottom of the sixth.

“If we score eight runs, we have to win the ballgame,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

Gattis led off the sixth with his ninth home run of the year. With men on first and third and two out, Tucker hit a drive that easily cleared the wall in right to tie it.

The rookie outfielder has two career home runs, and they both came as a pinch hitter during this series. He hit a solo shot in the ninth to tie Thursday’s game.

“I don’t necessarily feel comfortable pinch hitting. Once I step into the box, I feel the same, but just the process of it is something I’m not really used to,” Tucker said. “That’s pretty cool that I’ve been able to help us win.”

Sanchez allowed seven runs for the second consecutive start, his ERA rising to 6.12. He did strike out 11.

Sanchez allowed three runs in the first on a two-run triple by Gattis and a balk that brought Gattis home from third. The balk came when Sanchez started to throw a pickoff to third but held up, faking the throw instead.

Detroit answered with five runs in the bottom half, including a three-run double by Holaday.

On Sunday, Tigers starting pitcher Kyle Lobstein (sore left shoulder) was put on the 15-day DL after pitching 5 2-3 innings in Saturday’s start.