A potent offense and solid starting pitching lifted the Detroit Tigers to the top of the AL Central.
They've been coming up short in both areas lately - and are in second place as a result.
Detroit goes for its first win in four games Sunday when the Toronto Blue Jays try for their first home sweep in this series in nine seasons.
The Tigers (53-48) averaged 5.7 runs with a 3.39 ERA from their rotation during a 13-2 run that gave then a 1 1/2-game division lead over the Chicago White Sox on July 22. The club has scored 14 runs during its 1-4 skid, with starters posting a 5.45 ERA.
Detroit hasn't lost four straight since a season-worst five-game skid April 22-27."Right now, you can't sugarcoat it, we're not hitting," manager Jim Leyland said after Saturday's 5-1 loss. "We're not driving in runs and we're not hitting."
The Tigers will try to salvage the finale with Doug Fister (4-7, 4.03 ERA) on the hill.
The right-hander is looking to rebound from a 3-2 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday, when he yielded three runs and nine hits as Detroit had its five-game winning streak snapped.
Fister fell to 3-1 with a 2.89 ERA in his last four starts, and now will try to help the Tigers avoid being swept in Toronto for the first time since Sept. 5-7, 2003.
The Blue Jays, winners of six of eight, are going for a season high-tying fourth straight victory as they give the ball to Brett Cecil (2-3, 5.82) in the finale of this six-game homestand.
The left-hander has surrendered five total runs while pitching six innings in each of his last two starts - both losses.
"Everything was working - changeup, curveball, cutter was working really well tonight, and fastball," Cecil told the Blue Jays' official website after fanning a season-high eight in Tuesday's 7-2 loss to Oakland. "I felt like I could put pretty much any pitch wherever I wanted. It was really good."
The Blue Jays (51-49) have done a poor job supporting Cecil - scoring once while he's been in the game over his last two starts - but the club has been on a tear during its winning streak, hitting six home runs and scoring 23 times.
Edwin Encarnacion is 4 for 10 with two homers and five RBIs during that stretch and has taken over the team home run lead (28) from Jose Bautista , who has missed the last 10 games with a sprained left wrist."Encarnacion is hitting the ball out of the park almost every night it seems," Tigers right fielder Brennan Boesch said.
Jeff Mathis , who is Toronto's starting catcher with J.P. Arencibia on the disabled list with a fractured right hand, should be back behind the plate after rookie Yan Gomes started Saturday. Mathis, batting .419 (13 for 31) with two homers and seven RBis during a team-best eight-game hitting streak, is 3 for 6 versus Fister.
Rajai Davis is 9 for 22 against Fister.
First baseman Adam Lind could return to the Blue Jays' lineup after missing the first two games of the series with lower back tightness.
|July 07, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|July 02, 2012||Max Scherzer||Day-to-Day||Left hamstring soreness|
|June 25, 2012||Alex Avila||Day-to-Day||Left knee tendinitis|
|June 19, 2012||Jose Valverde||Day-to-Day||Right wrist|
|June 11, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Severe blister, left middle finger|
|June 11, 2012||Drew Smyly||15-Day DL||Severe blister, left middle finger|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|July 26, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||15-Day DL||Broken right hand|
|July 25, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
|July 17, 2012||Jason Frasor||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|July 17, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|July 16, 2012||Jose Bautista||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left wrist injury|
TORONTO (AP) -- With the count full, Jhonny Peralta was looking for a breaking ball. He got one, and ended a seven-day drought between hits by connecting for a big home run.
Peralta hit two homers, Doug Fister pitched eight innings and the Detroit Tigers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
"We had the right tonic for a nice winning formula today: a three-run homer and excellent pitching," manager Jim Leyland said.
The Tigers had lost three in a row and four of five to fall out of the AL Central lead.
Peralta hit a three-run drive off Brett Cecil in the second and added a solo shot against Joel Carreno in the ninth. It was Peralta's first multihomer game of the season and seventh of his career.
"Jhonny had a huge day," Leyland said.
Peralta came in mired in an 0-for-17 slump and hadn't gotten a base hit since going 2 for 3 in a 7-1 win over Chicago in July 21.
He snapped out of that funk in his first plate appearance Sunday, capping a nine-pitch at bat with a home run.
After fouling off five pitches from Cecil, Peralta said he was sitting on the breaking ball when the count went full.
"The first game we played here (Friday), I got to 3-2 a couple of times and they threw me a lot of breaking balls," Peralta said. "Today I was thinking `OK, if it's 3-2 and they throw a breaking ball to me, something will happen.' It happened."
Fister (5-7) won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing one run and seven hits, all singles. He struck out nine and matched his longest outing of the season.
"An excellent pitching performance," Leyland said. "Doug did an great job of keeping them off balance all day long and mixed his pitches extremely well."
Jose Valverde closed for his 20th save in 24 chances as Detroit avoided being swept in Toronto for the first time since Sept. 5-7, 2003.
Cecil (2-4) gave up three runs and four hits in a season-best 6 2-3 innings. He walked a season-high four and struck out seven.
Cecil has given up no more than three runs in each of his past three starts, but has lost all of them. The Blue Jays have scored just two runs behind him in that span.
The lefty has allowed a home run in each of his past four starts and has surrendered nine long balls in eight starts this season.
"I'm not going to change anything," Cecil said. "Just keep doing what I'm doing. Wins will come."
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he can live with home runs, as long as they don't always come with runners on.
"The old adage is solo home runs aren't going to beat you, it's what happens prior," Farrell said. "The walk contributed. I thought he threw a number of good pitches that were borderline and he didn't get a call on. But still, six plus innings, I thought he did a good job here today."
Toronto's only run came in the first when Rajai Davis singled, stole second and went to third on catcher Gerald Laird 's throwing error, then scored on a groundout by Colby Rasmus .
Detroit answered in the second when Delmon Young walked, Ryan Raburn doubled and Peralta followed with his seventh homer.
The Blue Jays put runners at first and second with two outs in the third, fourth and fifth innings, but failed to score each time. Brett Lawrie fouled out to end the third, Jeff Mathis grounded out to close the fourth and Edwin Encarnacion grounded out in the fifth.
"He's pretty good at staying calm when he gets in a tight situation," Leyland said. "That's a trait of a real good pitcher."
NOTES: Toronto's Adam Lind (back) missed his third straight game. A decision on whether to place Lind on the DL will come after he tries to hit before Monday's game at Seattle. ... The Tigers improved to 14-4 on Sundays this season. ... Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista (left wrist) took swings for the second straight day. ... Toronto lost for the third time this season when holding their opponent to five hits or fewer.