DETROIT— Alex Avila’s RBI single with two outs in the 11th gave the Detroit Tigers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday, one inning after center fielder Austin Jackson kept the game tied with a spectacular catch.
Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera left in the second inning because of right ankle soreness and is day to day. The Tigers pulled within 1½ games of the first-place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
J.A. Happ took a shutout into the eighth inning for Toronto, but the bullpen couldn’t hold the 2-0 lead. Happ left the game after walking Avila with one out, and Jackson singled off reliever Brandon Lyon. After Omar Infante flied out, Darren Oliver came on to face pinch-hitter Brennan Boesch and allowed an RBI single.
With Prince Fielder batting, Oliver threw a wild pitch that allowed Jackson to score from third and tie the game at 2.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer off Verlander in the fourth.
Happ allowed a run and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
Verlander allowed four hits and two walks in his first start against the Blue Jays since he threw a no-hitter at Toronto last year. With Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie and J.P. Arencibia still recovering from injuries, the Blue Jays looked overmatched at times against last year’s American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner. Verlander struck out Rajai Davis on three pitches to start the game and caught Adeiny Hechavarria looking with a sweeping breaking ball in the third.
Colby Rasmus was in an 0-for-26 slump when he hit a single to right to start the fourth. Encarnacion followed with his 33rd homer of the season.
Toronto has scored fewer than four runs for seven straight games. Jackson’s terrific catch in the 10th — he secured the ball in the palm of his glove — gave the Tigers a little more time to score their third run.
Jhonny Peralta led off the bottom of the 11th with a single, and Delmon Young hustled down the line on a grounder to third, beating the relay to first to prevent a double play. Berry ran for Young and stole second before Jeff Baker walked. Andy Dirks struck out, bringing Avila to the plate.
Verlander struck out the last two hitters in the sixth and then struck out the side in the seventh. His final strikeout was against Kelly Johnson in the ninth, giving Verlander 1,407 and moving him ahead of Jim Bunning for fifth place on Detroit’s career list.