By Ben Standig and Jake Kring-Schreifels
BALTIMORE -- J.D. Martinez and Miguel Cabrera hit back-to-back home runs off reliever Darren O'Day in the eighth inning as the Tigers avoided a four-game sweep with a 6-5 win over the Orioles on Sunday afternoon.
Detroit had lost 11 of 12 games and was poised for another setback after Manny Machado's two-run homer in the fifth off starter Michael Fulmer put Baltimore up, 5-4. O'Day (2-1) nearly struck out Martinez to end the eighth on a check swing, but instead, the outfielder hammered the next toss over the center-field wall. One pitch later, Cabrera popped his sixth home run.
"It's unusual, because he's such a good pitcher; has been, will be," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of O'Day. "It's more unusual to see the swing called a no-swing. Surprised the home-plate umpire didn't call it, it was that obvious."
Machado and Jonathan Schoop each had two RBIs for the Orioles, who had won seven in a row. Ian Kinsler went deep for Detroit in the fourth inning, while Steven Moya had three hits, finishing a homer shy of the cycle.
Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold (1-0) kept Baltimore off the scoreboard with 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of Fulmer after making his Major League debut Saturday. Alex Wilson pitched a spotless eighth inning and Francisco Rodriguez closed the game for his ninth save.
"I think it's well-established we needed a win," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "This was a nail-biter of a win. Seesaw back-and-forth type of game. We've talked about maybe one hit changing things. J.D.'s hit might have been that."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Maulin' Martinez: Down to his last strike against O'Day, Martinez didn't give in to a tempting pitch from the submarining reliever. Home-plate umpire Jeff Kellogg appealed to first-base umpire Mark Wegner, who ruled the pitch a ball, an upsetting call for the home crowd and one that gave the slugger life. On the following pitch, Martinez drove the ball over the wall for a game-tying home run.
"It was close," Martinez said. "I thought I held up. I looked at it. It was borderline. Could have gone either way. Fortunately it went our way." More >
Darren O'No! Orioles relievers entered Sunday leading the league with a 2.24 ERA, and it looked like they would continue their trend of dominance on Sunday afternoon until there were two outs in the eighth inning. O'Day came in after Mychal Givens' two scoreless frames and recorded two strikeouts before serving up back-to-back home runs to Martinez and Cabrera.
"Somebody dropped the ball today," said O'Day, who wasn't pleased with Wegner's call. "I consequently dropped the ball after that." More >
Fulmer can't take the fifth: Fulmer labored during a three-run first inning, but he retired nine in a row and watched the Tigers take a 4-3 lead in the fifth. Shortstop Mike Aviles' error snapped that streak, and one batter later, Machado changed the momentum with a blast to right-center. Fulmer walked the next batter before being pulled. He allowed five runs over 4 1/3 innings.
Streakin' Schoop: Schoop continued to be a firecracker for the Orioles' offense. After Fulmer stayed away from, and then walked, Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo to load the bases, Schoop gave Baltimore its first lead of the day with a two-run single in the first, whacking the first pitch to left field to cap a three-run inning.
In this four-game series against the Tigers, Schoop collected 10 RBIs on six hits, two of which were home runs, including a grand slam.
"Now I look petulant, whiny because I'm complaining about it, but there's no accountability. That cost games. If we lost the division by one game, there's no telling what that cost is. -- O'Day, on the Martinez check swing not being called a strike
"His whole game is deception, makes you feel uncomfortable in the box. That's how you feel when you're up there. You just have to harness it and control it, just try to battle him. That's really what I was trying to do." -- Martinez, on battling O'Day
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Cabrera's two hits moved him past another Tigers great, Hank Greenberg, for 12th on Detroit's all-time hits list with 1,529.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: Detroit returns home for a three-game series against American League Central rival Minnesota on Monday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Jordan Zimmerman (5-2, 1.50 ERA) opens the matchup for the Tigers against fellow right-hander Jose Berrios (1-1, 6.28).
Orioles: The O's get Monday off and then aim to start a new winning streak when they tab righty Ubaldo Jimenez (2-3, 4.87 ERA) on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET to begin a three-game series with the Mariners, who send lefty Wade Miley (3-2, 4.91 ERA) to the bump.