DETROIT — Rick Porcello struck out 10 in six innings and the Detroit Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 on Monday night to move a step closer to their third straight AL Central title.
Victor Martinez broke a 1-all tie in the sixth with a run-scoring single, and Omar Infante followed with his own RBI single. Detroit’s magic number to win the division title is eight games.
Porcello (13-8) allowed a run and five hits with two walks, falling one strikeout short of his career high. Drew Smyly got five outs in relief and Jose Veras finished the eighth.
Joaquin Benoit pitched a hitless ninth for his 21st save in 21 chances.
The Tigers entered with a five-game division lead over Cleveland.
Joe Saunders (11-15) pitched well until the sixth, when he got two outs before a walk and three hits chased him from the game.
Abraham Almonte homered for Seattle, which has lost seven of eight.
It was tied at 1 in the sixth when Miguel Cabrera walked and Prince Fielder followed with a single. Martinez's single up the line in right field scored Cabrera, and Infante lined a single to left to make it 3-1.
That rally made a winner of Porcello, who has bounced back nicely after giving up eight earned runs in a 20-4 loss to Boston on Sept. 4.
Porcello pitched his first career complete game in a win over the Chicago White Sox last Tuesday, and he was sharp against the punchless Mariners as well.
The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Torii Hunter and Cabrera hit back-to-back singles, and Hunter came home on a wild pitch. After that mistake, Saunders quieted Detroit, allowing no more than one baserunner in any inning until the sixth.
But it was a frustrating finish for Saunders, who allowed six runs over three innings in his previous start against Houston. He ended up yielding three runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings this time.
Tom Wilhelmsen relieved Saunders and got out of the sixth, but appeared to get hit in the right leg by Alex Avila's leadoff single in the seventh. Wilhelmsen stayed in the game and eventually allowed an RBI single by Hunter with two outs.
Justin Smoak's RBI single off Smyly in the eighth made it 4-2.
Peralta gets ready
DETROIT — Jhonny Peralta is moving closer to rejoining the Tigers, though manager Jim Leyland isn't making any public promises.
Leyland said Monday that Peralta will leave for the instructional league today. He is eligible to return Sept. 27 from his 50-game suspension that resulted from baseball's investigation into Biogenesis of America, a Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Peralta was Detroit's starting shortstop, but the Tigers acquired Jose Iglesias from Boston just before Peralta was suspended. General manager Dave Dombrowski already has said if Peralta returns, it won't be as the team's everyday shortstop.
Leyland said Peralta will work in the outfield in the instructional league.
"I don't know if you want to call it a longshot, a 50-50, I have no idea," Leyland said. "Dave will make a decision at some point. He'll go down there, and we'll be getting reports from down there, from the guys that are down there, on how he looks. How he looks in left field, how he's swinging the bat."