BALTIMORE (AP) — It was a wild half inning that had a little bit of everything — three straight homers, a grand slam and eight runs before there was a single out.
There was even a bit of mystery: Did Jason Hammel try to hit Matt Tuiasosopo with a pitch, and did the right-hander deserve to be ejected?
Miguel Cabrera’s grand slam capped an eight-run fourth inning for the Detroit Tigers, who cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 10-3 Saturday to snap a four-game losing streak.
Justin Verlander (7-4) allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings to win his third straight start and improve to 8-0 lifetime against Baltimore. But his performance was secondary to that of the Detroit offense, which built a 9-1 lead in the pivotal fourth.
After Victor Martinez opened the inning with a home run off Hammel, Jhonny Peralta followed with a shot to left and Alex Avila made it three in a row with a drive to center. Hammel’s next pitch struck Tuiasosopo in the left shoulder, then ricocheted off the flap of his helmet.
Home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt immediately tossed the right-hander from the game.
Hammel, who had already issued three walks, argued the ejection. So did Orioles manager Buck Showalter. But the decision stood.
“I’m not going to make a big deal of it. I hit him with a slider,” Hammel said. “Zero intent there to hit him. Obviously I give up three home runs, but I’m not the guy that answers getting hit around with hitting somebody. That’s bush league if you ask me. It was a mistake. A slider that got away.”
Tuiasosopo wasn’t so sure.
“All I know is we hit three homers off him, then the first pitch is at my head,” he said. “I wanted to try to go up there and hit a fourth one, but obviously I got hit.”
Showalter defended his pitcher, but acknowledged that the umpires were simply doing their job.
“I understand what the umpire’s trying to do, but it’s very tough for them to judge intent,” the manager said. “But I’ve got a real biased opinion of it, and it’s pretty obvious to us there was nothing intentional about it.”
Crew chief Jerry Layne said, “In this particular situation, everything’s kind of played into what this looks like. They claim there was no intent. Three home runs and a guy gets hit, you’re an umpire, what do you do?”
Interestingly, Tigers manager Jim Leyland didn’t believe Hammel was aiming the pitch at Tuiasosopo.
“In my heart, I do not think he was throwing at him,” Leyland said.
Tuiasosopo dropped his bat after the pitch, looked briefly at Hammel and walked to first base.
“I wasn’t happy about it. He got thrown out, and so he got his,” Tuiasosopo said.
“I’m just going to go to first base. What am I going to do? Charge the mound? Then I would get in trouble, too. He got thrown out and we ended up tagging them for more. ”
After Hammel (7-3) left, rookie T.J. McFarland was summoned from the Baltimore bullpen.
Avsail Garcia singled, Omar Infante doubled in a run and Andy Dirks walked to load the bases for Cabrera, who delivered his fourth career grand slam. It was his 200th home run with the Tigers, tying him with Bill Freehan for ninth place on the team’s career list.
It was the first time the Orioles have ever given up four homers in an inning, according to STATS, Inc. Detroit had not hit four home runs in an inning since Sept. 10, 1986.
Prince Fielder added a sixth-inning drive for the Tigers, whose five homers were a season high.
J.J. Hardy hit two home runs for Baltimore, and Nate McLouth singled twice and stole a base.
Hammel gave up five runs, five hits and three walks in three-plus innings. The three walks and three home runs were both season highs.
“I did not have command today,” Hammel said. “Obviously, very frustrated. Cost the bullpen a lot of innings.”
In his first time through the batting order, Hammel gave up two hits and walked three, but Detroit could only get one run — when Martinez led off the second with a walk and scored on a two-out single by Tuiasosopo.
Hardy opened the third with a homer to knot the score at 1.
The deadlock didn’t last long. On Hammel’s fifth pitch of the fourth inning, Martinez hit a drive inside the right field foul pole, and the rout was on.
NOTES: Every Detroit starter had at least one hit. .. Cabrera has 17 homers and leads the majors with 65 RBIs. … Kevin Gausman (0-2, 11.00 ERA) makes his third major league start Sunday for Baltimore in the finale of the three-game series. Rick Porcello (2-2, 5.29) will start for the Tigers. … Detroit’s starting pitchers recorded 203 strikeouts in May, the third-highest total in a single month by a major league rotation since 1900. … It was Hardy’s 10th career two-homer game. He came in mired in an 0-for-11 skid.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)