- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 9, 2014

DETROIT (AP) - When Max Scherzer is on the mound, the Detroit Tigers have a chance to win pretty much any game - even without their top two sluggers.

Scherzer pitched seven impressive innings, outdueling Zack Greinke and helping the short-handed Tigers beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1 on Wednesday.

Detroit was without Miguel Cabrera, who was given a day off, and Victor Martinez, who is dealing with a lingering back issue.

“Baseball’s that type of game,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Even without your best player, you can go out there and win.”

The AL Central-leading Tigers scored two runs in the first inning against Greinke, and Scherzer (11-3) made the lead hold up.

The All-Star right-hander allowed a run and four hits. He struck out seven and walked two.

Joba Chamberlain struck out two in the eighth, and Joe Nathan struck two in a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 23 chances.

Greinke (11-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out eight without a walk.

“You look at their lineup today, and you think you are getting a break with Cabrera and Victor being out,” Greinke said. “But they were putting up great at-bats all day. I was throwing good pitches.”

Miguel Rojas of the Dodgers hit his first career homer in the fifth.

Scherzer escaped a first-inning jam thanks to some impressive fielding behind him. Yasiel Puig hit a one-out triple, but with the infield in, Hanley Ramirez hit a sharp grounder to Eugenio Suarez, and Detroit’s rookie shortstop threw quickly to third to catch Puig off the base.

“That was a great play,” Scherzer said. “He just made an instinct play - saw Puig was off the base, and made a quick little snap throw. That just helped keep the game where it was.”

Rajai Davis made a sliding catch in left field for the third out.

Austin Jackson opened the bottom of the inning with a triple and scored on Ian Kinsler’s single. Kinsler advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on a two-out single by Don Kelly off Greinke.

“You let a guy like that settle in, it can be a long day,” Jackson said. “For us to kind of get something going there that first inning, that definitely sparked us.”

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