Detroit, MI – Max Scherzer tossed seven effective innings and the Tigers offense took advantage of Ricky Romero's wildness to earn a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game series.
The only costly mistake made by Scherzer (13-6) came in the sixth when he served up a solo homer to Edwin Encarnacion. The right-hander was otherwise stellar, allowing just four more hits and two walks while fanning eight.
Omar Infante drove in a pair for Detroit, which survived a shaky effort from its bullpen to snap a two-game losing streak.
Romero (8-11) walked eight in only 5 1/3 innings and was charged with five runs and seven hits in Toronto's third straight loss.
"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."
The Blue Jays nearly rallied late, as David Cooper and Yunel Escobar each knocked in a run off Octavio Dotel in the eighth, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
Joaquin Benoit entered with two on and two out and ended the threat by getting Omar Vizquel on an infield pop-up, only to have Toronto bring the go-ahead run to the plate against Jose Valverde in the ninth.
Valverde yielded a leadoff double and plunked Rajai Davis with one away before eventually settling down and retiring Colby Rasmus and Encarnacion, the latter via strikeout, to earn his 24th save of the season.
"(Scherzer) was really good and we held on," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We had some opportunities to blow it open, which we didn't do, but we ended up getting down at the end and Valverde got it done when we needed to."
Austin Jackson had three hits for Detroit, including a leadoff single in the first inning. A pair of two-out walks loaded the bases for Delmon Young, who took the first four pitches he saw off the plate to force in a run.
Jeff Baker flied out to leave the bags full, but two more walks and a single loaded the bases again in the home second. Another four-pitch free pass to Infante pushed a run across, and Gerald Laird crossed the plate for a 3-0 lead when Miguel Cabrera bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.
Encarnacion took Scherzer over the left-field wall for his 32nd home run in the sixth, but the Tigers tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom half.
Romero was mercifully pulled when Infante beat out a dribbler up the first- base line with the bases loaded. Andy Dirks scored on the play, and Cabrera greeted Brad Lincoln with a sac fly to knock in Detroit's final run.
Scherzer, who has won seven of his last eight decisions and improved to 3-0 lifetime against the Blue Jays, set a career high with 186 strikeouts, eclipsing the 184 he had in 2010 ... Detroit won despite going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranding 10 runners ... Romero has dropped his last 10 decisions and has not won since June 22 ... Cooper had three of Toronto's 10 hits.