Daniel Norris struggles, Tigers’ comeback falls short in loss to Giants

Daniel Norris will start for the Tigers Wednesday night (photo by Mike Mulholland, MLive).

DETROIT — On the brink of a big comeback, Detroit Tigers came up just short. Twice.

Instead of an encouraging win, the Tigers are left to mull another subpar performance by starting pitcher Daniel Norris in his final start before the All-Star Break.

Norris lasted only four innings as the Tigers fell to the San Francisco Giants 5-4 on on Wednesday night at Comerica Park.

The Tigers started the seventh inning with four consecutive base hits. All four runners scored, but the Tigers missed an opportunity to tie or take the lead when Justin Upton struck out with two on to end the inning.

The Tigers had another chance to tie in the eighth, but Mikie Mahtook struck out to strand a runner at second.

NOTABLE

* Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez had the 1,998th and 1,999th hits of his career Wednesday night. The first was soft chopper up the middle in the seventh that scored two runs. An inning later, he rapped a two-out double off the wall in right-center.

* Former Tigers prospect Gorkys Hernandez made his debut at Comerica Park by getting three hits — two of them infield singles — for the Giants on Wednesday.

The journeyman infielder never made it to the big leagues with the Tigers. He was dealt to the Atlanta Braves along with Jair Jurrjens in exchange for Edgar Renteria after the 2007 season.

Since then, Hernandez has been in the Pittsburgh, Miami, Kansas City, Chicago White Sox and San Francisco organizations.

* Norris endured a bizarre third inning that included two defensive misplays (one his own doing).

Hernandez reached on a bunt single. The ball was fielded by Norris but he had nowhere to throw, as Miguel Cabrera had strayed too far from first and second baseman Ian Kinsler couldn’t get over to help in time.

Two batters later, Hunter Pence drilled a line drive to Norris that he bobbled but could not catch. When he recovered, he appeared to make eye contact with baserunner Kelby Tomlinson, who was caught between third and home. Rather than throw home or try to get Tomlinson in a rundown, a seemingly flustered Norris threw the ball to first base for the easier out. Tomlinson scored.

* Tigers reliever Warwick Saupold pitched three scoreless innings of relief, pushing his season ERA to 1.99 in 31 2/3 innings of work. He’s allowed just one run in his last 15 innings of work.

UP NEXT

The Tigers wrap up their three-game series against the Giants with Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 6.34 ERA) on the mound. Johnny Cueto (6-7, 4.26) is scheduled to start for San Francisco.

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