DETROIT – Alex Avila's RBI single with two outs in the 11th gave the Detroit Tigers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, one inning after center fielder Austin Jackson kept the game tied with a spectacular catch.
The Blue Jays had a runner on second in the 10th when Anthony Gose lifted what looked like a sure hit to the gap in right-center. But Jackson raced over and made a diving catch.
With runners on first and second in the 11th, Avila singled to right off Chad Jenkins (0-1). Gose played the ball on a hop and couldn't throw out pinch-runner Quintin Berry at home.
Joaquin Benoit (3-3) got the win. Justin Verlander struck out 12 in nine innings for the Tigers.
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera left in the second inning because of right ankle soreness and is day to day. The Tigers pulled within 1½ games of the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
J.A. Happ took a shutout into the eighth inning for Toronto, but the bullpen couldn't hold the 2-0 lead. Happ left the game after walking Avila with one out, and Jackson singled off reliever Brandon Lyon. After Omar Infante flied out, Darren Oliver came on to face pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch and allowed an RBI single.
With Prince Fielder batting, Oliver threw a wild pitch that allowed Jackson to score from third and tie the game at 2.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer off Verlander in the fourth.
Happ allowed a run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
Verlander allowed four hits and two walks in his first start against the Blue Jays since he threw a no-hitter at Toronto last year. With Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia still recovering from injuries, the Blue Jays looked overmatched at times against last year's American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Verlander struck out Rajai Davis on three pitches to start the game and caught Adeiny Hechavarria looking with a sweeping breaking ball in the third.
Colby Rasmus was in an 0-for-26 slump when he hit a single to right to start the fourth. Encarnacion followed with his 33rd homer of the season.
Toronto has scored fewer than four runs for seven straight games. Jackson's terrific catch in the 10th — he secured the ball in the palm of his glove — gave the Tigers a little more time to score their third run.
Jhonny Peralta led off the bottom of the 11th with a single, and Delmon Young hustled down the line on a grounder to third, beating the relay to first to prevent a double play. Berry ran for Young and stole second before Jeff Baker walked. Andy Dirks struck out, bringing Avila to the plate.
Happ, acquired by the Blue Jays from Houston last month, was the third straight left-hander to start for Toronto this series.
Verlander struck out the last two hitters in the sixth and then struck out the side in the seventh. His final strikeout was against Kelly Johnson in the ninth, giving Verlander 1,407 and moving him ahead of Jim Bunning for fifth place on Detroit's career list.
NOTES: Detroit reinstated RHP Al Alburquerque from the 60-day disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Toledo. The reliever hasn't pitched this season after having right elbow surgery. ... The Tigers host the Los Angeles Angels on Friday. Detroit RHP Rick Porcello (9-8) takes the mound against Angels RHP Zack Greinke (1-2). The Blue Jays are at Baltimore. Toronto RHP Carlos Villanueva (6-3) takes on Orioles LHP Zach Britton (2-1).