DETROIT -- The Tigers faced Mariners ace James Paxton, making his first start since throwing a no-hitter last Tuesday at Toronto, with a lineup that was missing Jose Cabrera, Nicholas Castellanos, Leonys Martin and Jeimer Candelario. Detroit's makeshift nine Sunday included Pete Kozma batting second, James McCann in the cleanup
DETROIT -- The Tigers faced Mariners ace James Paxton, making his first start since throwing a no-hitter last Tuesday at Toronto, with a lineup that was missing Jose Cabrera, Nicholas Castellanos, Leonys Martin and Jeimer Candelario. Detroit's makeshift nine Sunday included Pete Kozma batting second, James McCann in the cleanup spot and Niko Goodrum in right field, supporting lefty reliever turned spot starter Blaine Hardy.
As the Tigers swarmed Jose Iglesias following his ninth-inning walk-off single off Juan Nicasio, sending them to a 5-4 win and their first series victory over a team with a winning record this season, the Mariners didn't have to wonder what hit them. But they would've been justified in checking the box score to review who hit them.
Goodrum, starting in right field while Castellanos receives treatment on a left pinky finger contusion, posted the first three-hit game of his Major League career, including a solo homer off Paxton in the fifth inning. Dixon Machado, whose average on the season stood at .200 last Monday, churned out two singles off Paxton. Michael Mahtook, recalled from Triple-A Toledo earlier this week, singled in a run off Paxton and doubled in another off Chasen Bradford.
The trio accounted for seven of Detroit's 10 hits in the game, and five of the Tigers' six hits against Paxton over his six quality innings.
"We put together the best lineup we could with the players we have," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "They're all Major League Baseball players, and they find a way to win."
They found it against a hot pitcher who might have paid for a strategic move to attack an aggressive group of young hitters.
"The last two games, I've thrown a lot of breaking balls, so I wanted to attack with my fastball," Paxton said. "But I just wasn't very good. I didn't feel as strong today, and I needed to recognize that earlier and flip the switch."
Though the Tigers got their hits off Paxton, they needed three ninth-inning singles off Nicasio (1-2) to finish off the win after Jean Segura's two-run single tied it in the eighth. JaCoby Jones was hitless until the ninth, but once his slow-roller squirted between Segura and third baseman Kyle Seager for an infield single, the Tigers had their leadoff single.
Jones, who ran wild on the Mariners' defense for most of Saturday's doubleheader, was so excited about the single that he missed first-base coach Ramon Santiago telling him to take second base as the ball rolled behind Segura and Seager toward short left field.
"I was running through the bag," Jones said.
Once Goodrum followed with a ground ball through the right side, Jones took third base easily, challenging right fielder Mitch Haniger's arm for the third time this series. That drew the Mariners' infield in against Iglesias, whose ground ball up the middle deflected off former Tiger Andrew Romine's glove near second base as Jones sprinted home to a celebration.
"I'm having a blast," Jones said. "I think the whole clubhouse is having a blast. Anytime you get a 'W' against a good team like that, or win a series against a great Seattle team that's been hot offensively, it's fantastic."
To do so under these circumstances, though, was particularly enthralling for them. While Detroit's offense assembled rallies, Hardy scattered eight hits over 4 1/3 innings of two-run ball in his first Major League start.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Saupold grabs a mop:Warwick Saupold replaced Hardy after the two first batters of the fifth inning reached safely against Hardy. Saupold's walk to Haniger loaded the bases for Ryon Healy, but Saupold induced an inning-ending ground ball from him for the second time in as many days, this one resulting in a double play to short.
Sunday marked the Tigers' fourth walk-off victory through 39 games this season. According to research from Fox Sports Detroit, it marks their most walk-off victories in their first 40 games of a season since they posted five in 1993.
HE SAID IT
"I enjoy him. He has a good smile. His emotions sometimes go through the roof. He's going to get frustrated with himself, but he's going to get happy, too." -- Gardenhire, on Jones
The Tigers, having put up hits on Paxton, move on to the challenge of Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco as they open a three-game series against the Indians on Monday with a 7:10 p.m. ET game at Comerica Park. Mike Fiers (3-2, 4.73) starts for Detroit.
Carrasco tossed a complete-game three-hitter against the Tigers on April 11 in Cleveland.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.