BALTIMORE — The Detroit Tigers were sellers before the trade deadline, and now they’re winners after it.
Justin Upton hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to back a strong pitching performance by Justin Verlander, and surprising Detroit beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-2 Friday night for its fourth straight victory.
Jim Adduci also homered for the Tigers, who have won six of seven despite unloading slugger J.D. Martinez, catcher Alex Avila and closer Justin Wilson before the non-waiver trade deadline.
“We’re just having fun,” Upton said. “These guys come in here with energy every day. They just want to go out there and play.”
Detroit’s winning streak matches a season high.
“We’re just able to scrape up enough runs and get a few big hits here and there,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’re trying to ride this as long as possible.”
Trailing 2-1 after being limited to three hits by Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, the Tigers rallied against Mychal Givens (7-1) in the eighth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Upton, who sent the first pitch deep into the left-field seats. It was his third slam of the season and seventh of his career.
Givens had allowed only two runs in his previous 26 appearances, and Baltimore was 43-4 when leading after seven innings.
Verlander (7-7) struck out 10 and gave up two runs and six hits over seven innings. He’s 10-5 lifetime against Baltimore, including 8-1 at Camden Yards.
“It was good that he was able to get the win after pitching so well,” Ausmus said.
With Wilson gone, the closer’s job is up for grabs. Bruce Rondon, who entered with an 11.20 ERA, worked the ninth for his first save.
Tim Beckham went 4 for 4 with a home run and Manny Machado also went deep for the Orioles, who have lost two in a row to Detroit following a five-game winning streak.
In the bottom of the seventh, Baltimore missed a chance to add to the lead when Caleb Joseph appeared to be hit by a pitch on the hand with runners at second and third with one out. But crew chief Jeff Nelson ruled Joseph out on a check swing, a call that is not reviewable by replay. Craig Gentry followed with a fly out, setting the stage for Detroit’s comeback.
“I was continuing to turn to avoid the ball hitting me right in the teeth,” Joseph explained. “I’m not sure there’s a person in Baltimore or Detroit that would say, ‘I think he was truly trying to swing at it.'”
Adduci put Detroit up 1-0 in the first inning with his second homer in the big leagues, the first coming with Texas in 2014 before he spent the next two years playing in Korea. Since launching his unusual professional career in 2004, Adduci has played in 1,290 games — but just 84 in the majors.
Beckham tied it by leading off the second inning with a drive to center, his second home run in two nights.
Machado put Baltimore in front with an opposite-field shot to right in the third.
HOT AND COLD
Beckham is 11 for 16 since being obtained from Tampa Bay on July 31.
“He wants to play and he’s going to get an opportunity here,” manager Buck Showalter said. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
Teammate Chris Davis, on the other hand, went 0 for 4 with four strikeouts.
TILLMAN TO PEN?
Orioles starter Chris Tillman hasn’t won in 14 starts and owns an 8.10 ERA. Those kinds of numbers usually mean the pitcher is either hurting or primed for a demotion to the bullpen.
“Chris says he’s healthy and I believe him,” Showalter said.
So, is it time to remove Tillman from the rotation?
“I think we’re leaning more one way than the other, but we’re not there yet,” Showalter said.
Tigers: OF Alex Presley (oblique strain) is close to resuming baseball activities. He’s been on the DL since July 30.
Orioles: Bruised and sore after fouling a ball off his knee Thursday night, DH Trey Mancini was given the night off.
Tigers: Scrambling to find a replacement for Saturday’s scheduled starter, injured Michael Fulmer, Ausmus chose right-hander Drew VerHagen.
Orioles: Wade Miley (5-9. 5.60 ERA) is 0-0 lifetime versus Detroit, the only team in the majors he has no record against. In two career starts against the Tigers, he’s yielded nine runs in 11 innings.
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