ARLINGTON, Texas — Miguel Cabrera never had a night like this last season when he won baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years.
And it still wasn’t enough to get the Detroit Tigers a win.
David Murphy put Texas ahead for good with a three-run home run just over the wall in right field in the sixth inning, and the Rangers spoiled the second three-homer game of Cabrera’s career with an 11-8 victory on Sunday night.
Cabrera last went deep three times in a game against Oakland in Detroit nearly three years ago – or two years before he became the AL’s first Triple Crown winner since Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967 by leading the league in average, homers and RBIs.
Cabrera went 4 for 4 and drove in five runs Sunday night and leads the majors with a .387 average and 47 RBIs. He has 11 homers, one off the AL lead.
“Miggy never ceases to amaze you,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “This guy obviously is something very special.”
But Detroit’s pitching wasn’t on a warm and windy night in Texas, and the Tigers couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead Cabrera gave them with a pair of homers.
Then they lost the 7-5 lead provided by Prince Fielder’s three-run double after the Rangers intentionally walked Cabrera even though there already were runners on first and second.
Murphy gave the Rangers an 8-7 lead in the bottom of the sixth with a drive off Jose Ortega (0-1), who hadn’t allowed a run in six relief appearances covering seven innings.
“Very nice to be on the winning side,” said Murphy, who had a sacrifice fly in the seventh. “Big game, fun game, national TV. We got to witness the best hitter in the game hit three homers.”
Robbie Ross (2-0) pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the win, and Joe Nathan worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his 13th save. He has saved all 36 career chances against Detroit.
The Tigers led 4-1 after Cabrera hit a three-run homer over the Texas bullpen in right-center field in the third and added a solo shot to center off Derek Holland, who had given up just two homers in 57-plus innings this year after setting a club record by allowing 32 last year.
But the Rangers were ahead 11-7 when Cabrera hit another solo homer to center for just the second run allowed in 22-plus innings by Texas reliever Tanner Scheppers.
“I’ve never seen a guy that puts the bat head on the ball as regular as he does, and on all pitches,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He’s just a tremendous hitter. I’m very happy that he’s headed to the airport.”
The Rangers overcame Detroit’s early lead with a four-run fifth highlighted by a pop fly double from Adrian Beltre that scored two and gave Texas a 5-4 lead.
Beltre went 4 for 5 with two doubles – both of them bloopers – and Geovany Soto and Lance Berkman had three hits apiece for the Rangers, who matched their season high with 18 hits.
Soto, who came in hitting .185, went 3 for 5 for the Rangers and had a fourth hit taken away when Andy Dirks caught a long drive to center while crashing into the wall.
Dirks’ catch on Soto ended a string of six straight Texas batters reaching in the sixth against Ortega, who had allowed only five base runners this season.
Soto started both Texas rallies with leadoff hits in the fifth and sixth innings, when the Rangers scored eight of their runs.
The light-hitting catcher had a double to start the fifth and scored on a groundout by Elvis Andrus. Murphy walked and Berkman drove in Craig Gentry with a single before Beltre’s second double, which slipped out of Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta’s glove just inside the left-field line.
“The guy that really hurt us in this series was Soto,” Leyland said. “He killed us. He led off a couple of innings tonight with hits that got them going.”
Washington scrambled to protect a 5-4 lead in the sixth, finally ordering reliever Jason Frasor to walk Cabrera with runners at first and second when he got behind 3-1. Washington brought in left-hander Michael Kirkman to face Fielder, but the lefty slugger ripped his second double to the wall in center field.
Soto started the sixth with a single, and Andrus walked with one out before Murphy pulled a pitch from Ortega to right to put Texas ahead for good.
“Neither team quit fighting,” Washington said. “It was a very good ballgame. It didn’t matter what you tried to do. Each team came back, and we got the final blow and were able to sustain.”
Holland and Detroit starter Doug Fister both went just 4 2-3 innings, the shortest outing of the year for Holland. The left-hander gave up eight hits and four runs with three walks and six strikeouts. Fister allowed nine hits and five runs.
NOTES: Rangers 2B Ian Kinsler went on the 15-day disabled list with bruised ribs, and top prospect Jurickson Profar was brought up from Triple-A Round Rock. Leury Garcia made his third straight start in Kinsler’s place at second. … Rangers C A.J. Pierzynski caught five innings in the first game of a rehab assignment at Double-A Frisco on Sunday. He went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and two groundouts. Pierzynski will catch RHP Colby Lewis’ rehab start with Frisco on Monday. … Leyland said after the game that RHP Evan Reed is being optioned to Triple-A Toledo and RHP Luke Putkonen will be recalled from Toledo on Tuesday.