Tigers 5 Blue Jays 3
DETROIT — The Detroit Tigers did a lot of their best work simply by leaving their bats on their shoulders.
Detroit took advantage of Ricky Romero’s wildness Tuesday night in a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. The Tigers scored their first two runs on bases-loaded walks, and although they never really broke the game open with a big hit, they did enough to keep pace in the AL Central race.
Detroit still trails the first-place Chicago White Sox by two games.
“This one’s in the book, you turn the page,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s what we’ve got to do now — 40 of them left — got to just play it out and see what happens.”
Max Scherzer struck out eight in seven impressive innings for Detroit.
Romero (8-11) lost his 10th straight decision, allowing five runs, seven hits and eight walks in 5 1-3 innings. He didn’t strike out a batter.
Austin Jackson had three hits. Scherzer (13-6) allowed five hits, including Edwin Encarnacion’s solo homer. He walked two.
“I know that when I go out there, I know I can be really good,” Scherzer said. “I know I can pitch consistently and I know I can get hitters out. I don’t fear a single hitter in this whole league. When I bring my ’A’ game and I bring my game, I can pitch well against any team — doesn’t matter who it is.”
Detroit needed three relievers to get through the eighth, when the Blue Jays scored two runs. Jose Valverde then pitched the ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.
Valverde allowed two baserunners but eventually struck out Encarnacion to end it.
Romero walked six in the first two innings.
“I feel like I’m the one that lost the game,” Romero said. “It’s baffling. It’s tough. I don’t know how to put it. It’s just been a frustrating year.”
Romero is 0-10 with a 7.69 ERA in his last 11 starts.
He was in trouble right away in the first inning on Tuesday, when Jackson reached on an infield single and went to second on third baseman Omar Vizquel’s throwing error.
With two outs and a man on third, Romero walked Prince Fielder, Jhonny Peralta and Delmon Young to give Detroit the lead.
In the second, Romero walked Omar Infante with the bases loaded, and Miguel Cabrera followed with a double-play grounder that brought home another run to make it 3-0.
“That’s tough when you see a guy missing by that much and you’re trying to hit against it,” Leyland said.
“You’re saying, ’Well, he’s wild, I don’t want to swing at something bad.’ Then all of a sudden he throws one that looks good and it runs in on you. That’s what happened a couple times.”
Encarnacion hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, and at that point, Romero hadn’t allowed a walk or a run since the second. But he couldn’t keep it up, giving up a walk to Jeff Baker, a single to Andy Dirks and another walk to Gerald Laird to load the bases.
After Jackson hit into a forceout at the plate, Infante hit a grounder to first baseman David Cooper, who hesitated and ended up not getting any out at all.
Romero left the game after that, and Cabrera added a sacrifice fly off Brad Lincoln to make it 5-1.
Toronto fought back in the eighth with an RBI double by Cooper and a run-scoring single by Yunel Escobar. Joaquin Benoit came on with two on and two outs and threw only one pitch, retiring Vizquel on a popup to end the threat.
NOTES: The last pitcher to walk at least eight batters with no strikeouts was Colorado’s Greg Reynolds, who walked eight against Philadelphia on May 28, 2008, according to STATS, LLC. … Scherzer has a career-high 186 strikeouts this year, surpassing his previous mark of 184 from 2010. … Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-3) faces Toronto LHP Aaron Laffey (3-4) on Wednesday night.