- Associated Press - Thursday, June 17, 2010

DETROIT | Miguel Cabrera has been sensational at the plate all season.

Now, his teammates are starting to hit.

Cabrera drove in three runs and the Detroit Tigers beat the Washington Nationals 8-3 Thursday thanks to a season-high 19 hits and Jeremy Bonderman’s seven sharp innings.

“Hitting is contagious,” said Brandon Inge, one of eight Tigers with multiple hits. “There was a lot of hype a couple weeks ago because of our lack of production. We’re not doing anything different, but we can be dangerous if we keep this up.”

Detroit has won a season-high six games. Washington has lost five of six heading into rookie Stephen Strasburg’s next start Friday at home.

“A lot of it is timing,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “(Friday) they’ll be one of the best teams in baseball.”

Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said his last-place team better start winning more games soon if it plans to compete with NL East’s best.

“Certainly we have to play better,” he said. “The other clubs have picked it up a little bit. The Braves and Mets have separated themselves.”

Cabrera has distinguished himself as one of baseball’s best hitters, with a .332 batting average, 19 homers and 59 RBIs this year.

It’s the bottom of the order that’s beginning to come through for the Tigers.

Light-hitting Ramon Santiago matched a career high with four hits and Inge extended his hitting streak to 11 games. Alex Avila hit a two-run double and has driven in at least a run for three straight days.

“It’s a confidence thing,” Inge said.

Adam Dunn homered and Cristian Guzman went 2 for 4 with an RBI single for the Nationals. Rookie Luis Atilano (5-4) gave up five runs and nine hits — matching a career high — in 4 1-3 innings.

Detroit scored three times in the fifth inning to take a 5-0 lead. Cabrera drove in two with a double to center and Carlos Guillen singled in a run.

Santiago and Cabrera each had an RBI single in the sixth.

Bonderman (3-4) gave up two runs and five hits. He retired his first 11 batters, struck out seven and walked none.

The right-hander struck out four straight before giving up his first hit in the fourth inning.

“He’s got a real good slider,” Riggleman said. “We didn’t recognize it and were swinging and missing it.”

Bonderman won for the first time in nearly a month and moved a step closer to proving he’s a solid pitcher after a couple shaky seasons due to injury.

“I had questions about myself,” he said. “I didn’t know how good I was going to be.”

The Nationals made good contact early in the game, hitting three balls to the warning track in their first four at-bats only to have them hauled in by outfielders.

“This is a big ballpark,” Washington’s Wil Nieves said. “Any other ballpark and it would have been a different score.”

NOTES: Strasburg’s next start is against the Chicago White Sox, pitching for the second time at home. … Detroit will close its homestand this weekend against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who are expected to start ex-Tigers Edwin Jackson and Dontrelle Willis during the series. … Washington is 5-17 on the road since May 13. … Detroit is 23-10 at home and six games under .500 on the road. … Dunn has homers in six of the last nine games and 16 for the season. … Atilano has lost three straight starts. … Detroit OF Austin Jackson (back) hit and threw some before the game. He has missed three straight.

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