DETROIT -- The Tigers withstood a barrage of Blue Jays home runs to take the rubber match of a three-game series at Comerica Park. Miguel Cabrera's bases-loaded walk forced home Alex Avila in the 11th inning for a 6-5 win Sunday afternoon.
On a day when Toronto starter Marco Estrada struggled to find the strike zone and threw 94 pitches over just 3 2/3 innings, Jose Bautista's go-ahead two-run homer in the fifth inning had the Blue Jays in position to take the series. However, J.D. Martinez had other plans, tying the game with an eighth-inning solo home run that just made it over the right-field wall off Danny Barnes. It was initially ruled to be a double before a crew chief review overturned the call.
Avila fought out of an 0-2 count for a leadoff walk against Jeff Beliveau (1-1) in the 11th. Josh Donaldson's bobble of Nicholas Castellanos' grounder and Justin Upton's walk continued the inning, loading the bases for Cabrera. Former Tigers farmhand Lucas Harrell nearly hit Cabrera with his 2-1 pitch, but ran the count full before missing the outside corner.
"Guys get caught up, especially in extra innings or in the bottom of the ninth, wanting to be the hero," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "They want the walk-off home run, and you really have to kind of relax yourself and take what they give you."
Warwick Saupold (2-1) earned the win as six Tigers relievers combined for five scoreless innings of one-hit ball.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Blue Jays go yard: After serving up nine home runs in 21 innings as a reliever this season, Anibal Sanchez hadn't allowed a homer since his first start on June 19 at Seattle, an 18 1/3-innings streak that ended Sunday with back-to-back homers in the first inning. Justin Smoak sent a 2-0 splitter deep to left for his 24th home run of the season, followed two pitches later by Kendrys Morales' 17th home run of the year for a quick 3-0 lead.
Martinez mash: The Blue Jays bullpen picked up Estrada with 3 1/3 scoreless innings, leaving Toronto six outs away from a crucial win. But Martinez, who hit an eighth-inning home run for add-on offense in Saturday's 11-1 win, has a history of dramatics. Sunday marked his 31st career home run in the eighth inning or later. Thirteen of them have either tied the game or moved the Tigers in front.
"We had the lead, and then Bautista comes back and hits a two-run homer," Ausmus said. "It kind of stings you, but then J.D. tying it certainly was a shot we needed."
"He has to throw strikes. The at-bat before, I swung at two bad pitches, so I was focused on swinging at strikes and making him throw strikes." -- Cabrera, on his game-winning walk
"I obviously do have to command the ball a little bit better. Especially my off-speed stuff. I've been struggling with my changeup. Today, I didn't really throw too many for strikes." -- Estrada, on his recent command woes
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Cabrera has seven career walk-off home runs and 16 career bases-loaded walks. This was his first career walk-off walk.
The crew chief review of Martinez's eighth-inning home run lasted just 31 seconds. Umpires originally ruled it a double before replay showed the ball hit above the yellow line atop the right-field wall. Martinez trotted home with the tying run.
WHAT'S NEXT Blue Jays: The Blue Jays head to Boston for a 7:10 p.m. ET game on Monday against a Red Sox team that followed up a 16-inning game Saturday with a doubleheader on Sunday. Marcus Stroman, who will start for Toronto, has a 10.29 ERA in four starts against Boston since the start of 2016.
Tigers: The Tigers head to Kansas City for a four-game series against the Royals, beginning with Jordan Zimmermann on the mound Monday night. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.