DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers quit relying on homers, then got beat on them.
With the scored tied 3-3 in the sixth inning Thursday, Toronto third baseman Juan Francisco pulled a two-run home run off Justin Verlander into the right-field seats. The next batter, Brett Lawrie, pulled a homer to left on a full count.
Those two blows sent Toronto to a 7-3 win at Comerica Park and its first sweep of the Tigers since 2003, the year the Tigers lost an American League-record 119 games.
The Tigers lost their fifth in a row. The Blue Jays took all three games in this series even though their ace, Mark Buehrle, didn't pitch and Edwin Encarnacion, their home-run leader, sat out today with a stiff back.
Toronto has plenty of other power hitters, as Verlander saw when he allowed two homers in a game for the first time this season. The Blue Jays lead the majors with 86 home runs. Francisco and Lawrie each now have 10 homers this season after their sixth-inning blows. Melky Cabrera added his 10th homer with two out and the bases empty in the ninth off Phil Coke. Those three are tied for third on the Blue Jays in homers behind Encarnacion (19) and Jose Bautista (14).
Entering Thursday, all the Tigers' RBIs in the last week had come on seven homers. That streak ended in the third when Ian Kinsler tripled in the game's first run and scored on a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.
Torii Hunter dropped a routine leadoff fly ball in the next inning after he appeared to miscommunicate with Austin Jackson. That led to a lead-changing three-run inning off Verlander. The final two runs, on a bases-loaded single by catcher Erik Kratz, were earned.
Kinsler's groundout drove in the tying run in the fifth. That made the Tigers 3-for-3 on the day at driving in runners from third with fewer than two out. That can be a skill just as important as hitting homers.
But the Tigers still didn't come close to what they've lacked in their recent malaise: the big inning.
Friday night, the Tigers host the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series. When the Tigers finished a three-game sweep in Boston three weekends ago, they had the majors' best record and a seven-game lead in the Central. Since then, the Tigers are 4-13, with only five quality starts (three by Anibal Sanchez).
The Tigers' lead in the AL Central dropped to 21/2 games on idle Chicago. It's their smallest lead since May 1. The Tigers visit the White Sox for a four-game series beginning Monday.
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