SEATTLE (AP) — When a college coach suggested Max Scherzer rein in his intensity and try and be a little calmer and even-keeled on the mound, Scherzer did the exact opposite.
"I need to be that high intensity every time I go out there," Scherzer said. "That's the way I'm wired, that's the way I pitch."
Detroit's young right-hander threw six solid innings, Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer into the second deck and the Tigers avoided a three-game sweep with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Scherzer gave up just a pair of runs and scattered six hits as the Tigers stopped Seattle's four-game winning streak.
It was an important start for Scherzer. Brought over from Arizona in an offseason trade, Scherzer was outstanding in his first outing of the season, then stumbled in his second appearance, giving up nine hits and five runs to Kansas City.
Scherzer found that level of intensity he needed on Sunday. He struck out four and walked just one in helping the Tigers end their own three-game slump.
"In college I realized I had to be really intense, the more intensity I bring the more focused I get," Scherzer said. "There were times where people told me I had to tone it down, but that's not me. I need to get more intense, get more focused and everything falls in place for me. It's a happy medium."
Cabrera gave Detroit an early lead, clubbing a three-run shot in the third off Seattle starter Ian Snell. It was his third homer of the season, the ball landing 403-feet away in the second level of seats in left field on his 27th birthday.
Scherzer (1-1) followed a strong effort from Justin Verlander on Saturday night. Verlander became the first Tigers starter to work beyond the sixth inning and Scherzer could have done the same Sunday.
But manager Jim Leyland decided to play the matchups and went with lefty Phil Coke and righty Ryan Perry to work the seventh. Perry survived the eighth despite putting runners on second and third with one out. He struck out Franklin Gutierrez looking on a 1-2 fastball, then got Jose Lopez to pop up to end the threat.
In the top of the eighth, Perry was given an important insurance run when Austin Jackson added an RBI single, fighting off Jesus Colome's pitch into right field to score Alex Avila. Jackson raised his average to .340 with three hits, and the Tigers won despite leaving 12 runners on base.
"It was important just to not try and do too much in that situation. A couple times in the past in a big situation with runners on (I've) tried to do too much," Jackson said. "I just tried to relax and let the game come to me there."
Jose Valverde pitched the ninth for his third save in four chances, including a strikeout of pinch-hitter Milton Bradley to end the game.
Casey Kotchman singled in a run in the second and hit his second homer with the Mariners in the fifth. Kotchman rounded first too far and was caught in a rundown. Eric Byrnes tried to score from third and was thrown out at home, crashing into Avila at the plate.
It was part of an eventful day for Byrnes, a late replacement after Bradley was scratched from the original lineup with a sore right calf. Byrnes' day began when he thumped into the wall while trying to catch Jackson's deep fly ball to open the game, which led to a triple. Byrnes also fought the sun to make one catch and later made a headfirst diving attempt at Carlos Guillen's liner in the fifth, but lost the ball from his glove as he hit the ground.
"It was tough out there. We thought about closing that part of the roof, but they wouldn't do it," Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu joked.
Snell (0-2) gave up five hits and walked four in five innings, and Seattle pitching allowed nine walks.
"I left one pitch up and that was the only thing that hurt me the whole game," Snell said.
Seattle appeared to start a rally in the sixth off Scherzer, but the threat ended when Chone Figgins lined a 3-2 pitch right at Magglio Ordonez in right and Ichiro Suzuki, running on the pitch, was doubled off first. Gutierrez followed with a double, but Scherzer struck out Lopez to end the inning.
NOTES: Cabrera added a double in the ninth, his 14 extra-base hit in 22 career games against Seattle. ... Seattle SS Jack Wilson's errant throw in the seventh on Johnny Damon's infield hit was his second error of the season and Seattle's ninth. ... Seattle's nine walks were a season high. The Mariners never walked more than seven batters in a game last season.
(This version CORRECTS Tigers 4, Mariners 2; Optional. corrects to Arizona sted Tampa Bay in 5th graf.)