CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Tigers left fielder Justin Upton has not had a memorable spring, but he showed some life in his bat Saturday afternoon at Bright House Field.He hit a solo home run to left field in the first inning, singled and scored in the fourth, hit another solo homer
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Tigers left fielder Justin Upton has not had a memorable spring, but he showed some life in his bat Saturday afternoon at Bright House Field.
He hit a solo home run to left field in the first inning, singled and scored in the fourth, hit another solo homer in the sixth and another single in the eighth in a 6-5 win over the Phillies. Upton entered the afternoon hitting .189 (7-for-37) with one double, two RBIs, eight walks and 15 strikeouts in 15 games.
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"I was just reacting. That's a plus when you're seeing the ball well, even the offspeed pitches," said Upton. "That's part of the plan."
Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander made his fifth start of the spring. He allowed seven hits, three runs and one walk and struck out two in five-plus innings.
"Overall, it's a step in the right direction. Left some pitches up," said Verlander. "Curveball was much better. Slider wasn't quite there today. But overall, not a bad day."
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Phillies catcher Cameron Rupp doubled to score Odubel Herrera in the fourth, and Freddy Galvis homered in the fifth. Ryan Howard doubled and scored on Cedric Hunter's sacrifice fly in the sixth to tie the game.
The Phillies took the lead in the seventh, scoring two runs against Mark Lowe. Herrera singled to score a run, and Howard's fielder's choice scored another.
The Tigers tallied one run in the eighth, when Ben Verlander, pinch-running for Upton, scored on Tyler Collins' second RBI triple of the game. Detroit went ahead for good in the top of the ninth on a two-run single from Gustavo Nunez off the Phillies' Chris Leroux.
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Up next for the Tigers:Mike Pelfrey, who had a good spring going before giving up nine runs in a Minor League game earlier this week, gets back to big league competition Sunday when the Tigers welcome the Astros to Joker Marchant Stadium for a 1:05 p.m. ET contest. Pelfrey has allowed two earned runs on eight hits over 15 1/3 Grapefruit League innings this spring. Mike Fiers is scheduled to start for the Astros. Listen to the game live on Gameday Audio.
Up next for the Phillies: The Phillies head south to Ft. Myers to face the Red Sox on Sunday afternoon in a Grapefruit League game at JetBlue Park at 1:05 p.m. ET. Phillies right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will make his second Grapefruit League start after missing the early part of spring recovering from a fractured right thumb. He is expected to be ready to pitch the first week of the season. Watch the game live on MLB.TV.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.