TORONTO — Aaron Hill knew his swing wasn't a thing of beauty. The result sure was.
Jose Bautista hit his major league-leading 42nd homer and Hill singled home the winning run in the 11th inning to give the Toronto Blue Jays a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.
Hill reached for a changeup from left-hander Phil Coke and blooped a single into short right, scoring pinch-runner John McDonald from second base.
“I'm not going to say it was a good swing, but I got the barrel underneath the ball and it ended up working out in our favor,” Hill said.
Hill came in with one hit in his last 24 at-bats and batted eighth for the third straight game. He went 2 for 5, adding a double in the seventh, and boosted his average to .209. It's a far cry from last season, when he hit .286 with a career-high 36 homers and 108 RBIs.
“He's had some bad luck this year,” Blue Jays starter Shaun Marcum said. “He's hit some balls hard that last year probably fell in. It's just one of those years. He's caught some bad breaks but he's hung in there. He comes ready to play every day and he gives us all he's got.”
Adam Lind also went deep for the Blue Jays, who have a major league-best 195 home runs this season, including 110 at home.
Trailing 2-1, Detroit tied it in the ninth against Toronto closer Kevin Gregg. Austin Jackson led off with a triple to center and scored one out later when Johnny Damon singled through the drawn-in infield. The blown save was Gregg's fifth.
The Blue Jays won it in the 11th against Coke (7-3). John Buck hit a one-out single and, after Fred Lewis walked, Buck was replaced by McDonald. Hill singled to right in front of Casper Wells, and McDonald scored standing up as the Blue Jays poured out of their dugout to mob Hill at first base.
“It's always fun to run on the field like that,” reliever Shawn Camp said. “Aaron came up with a big hit right there.”
Camp (4-2) pitched two hitless innings for the win.
Detroit loaded the bases against Camp in the 10th on two walks and a throwing error by shortstop Yunel Escobar, but Damon flied out to end the threat.
That was the theme of the night for the wasteful Tigers, who stranded 16 and went 1 for 16 with runners in scoring position.
“We just had too many opportunities we let get away,” manager Jim Leyland said.
Detroit's Miguel Cabrera hit a leadoff homer off the left-field foul screen in the sixth, his 32nd. Lind answered in the seventh with a leadoff shot to straightaway center, his 18th.
Bautista and Lind both connected off Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander, who allowed two runs and five hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out eight.
Detroit starters are 6-0 with a 1.26 ERA in the past eight games, striking out 51 while walking just nine.
Leyland said Verlander was “tremendous.”
“This was one of the best games he's pitched all year,” the manager said.
Verlander, however, was left to rue two costly fastballs to Bautista and Lind.
“With the stuff I had tonight, I should have given us a little bit of a better chance,” Verlander said. “That homer to Lind, I'm pretty disappointed in that.”
Verlander retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced, with a first-inning walk to Bautista the only blemish, before the Blue Jays got on the board with Bautista's one-out drive to left in the fourth.
Verlander set down the next seven batters before Escobar's single in the sixth. Bautista followed with a double to left but Vernon Wells grounded out for the final out.
Marcum was in trouble often in the early going, allowing two baserunners in each of the first, second and fifth innings, but turned the Tigers away empty-handed each time.
Marcum allowed one run and eight hits in six innings. He walked two and struck out four.
Pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn singled off Toronto lefty Jesse Carlson in the seventh and, one out later, Cabrera was intentionally walked. Jason Frasor struck out pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago for the third out.
Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay left with an illness after striking out looking in the fifth and is hitless in 12 at-bats. Bautista moved from right field to first base, Travis Snider went from left to right and Lewis took over in left, batting in Overbay's spot.
NOTES: Detroit scratched RHP Jeremy Bonderman from Saturday's start because of soreness in his right side. RHP Alfredo Figaro (0-1) will replace Bonderman and oppose Toronto RHP Brandon Morrow (9-6). ... Leyland said Jackson would get the day off Saturday and Damon will be rested Sunday. ... George Bell holds Toronto's single-season home run record, swatting 47 en route to AL MVP honors in 1987.
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