05/03/2013 8:39 PM ET
Kelly continuing to prove value as utility man
By Richard Dean / Special to MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Toward the end of Thursday's 14-inning game vs. the Astros, a good portion of the crowd remaining at Minute Maid Park were Tigers fans.
"We were well represented last night at the game," said Don Kelly, who hit a go-ahead RBI single in the 14th. "It was fun. There were a lot of Tigers fans here, and to pull out a win was big."
Kelly entered in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner and remained in the game as the designated hitter. He went 2-for-3 with a double.
In the top of the 14th, Astros reliever Dallas Keuchel intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to load the bases with one out. Kelly then singled through the hole at second base, scoring Austin Jackson, who had led off the inning with a ground-rule double to right field.
In his fourth year with Detroit, Kelly has played at every position for the Tigers except shortstop. On Friday, Kelly was the starting center fielder, batting sixth in the lineup.
"Any time you can get in there and get some at-bats is huge," said Kelly. "Whenever the team needs me. Whether it's pinch-running late, defense late, getting the occasional start. I'm just trying to help the team win."
Jackson given rest after marathon affair
HOUSTON -- Austin Jackson was out of the Tigers' lineup on Friday for the first time this season, a day after Detroit's 14-inning, 7-3 win over Houston at Minute Maid Park.
Don Kelly made the start in center field. Kelly has made four starts in left field and three starts in right.
The 26-year-old Jackson had started the first 27 games of the season in center field and had batted leadoff every game until Friday.
"He did not ask for a day off," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "He could play. He's played in all of them. It's not that easy."
Jackson, who had three hits on Thursday and entered Friday's action with an American League-leading 28 runs, is dealing with a sore hamstring.
"It doesn't matter how old you are, sometimes you get tired," said Leyland.
Extra-inning games becoming norm for Tigers
HOUSTON -- The Tigers have had their share of extra-inning games this season. In their first 27 games, five have gone to extras, including Thursday's 14-inning affair in which the Tigers scored four times in the top of the 14th to win, 7-3.
"It's a shame anybody had to lose that game," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "It was a good game because we won. It would have been a lousy game if we lost.
"It was a weird game. You can see what you got going here. [The Astros are] full of ambition and trying to make their mark. And they're going to play you tooth and nail. "
The marathon game matched the longest for Detroit this season. On April 17 at Seattle, the Tigers beat the Mariners, 2-1, in 14 innings.
The Tigers have lost games this season in 10, 12 and 13 innings.
"That's a lot of baseball," said Leyland. "This stuff is hard."
• Rick Porcello, who threw seven innings on Thursday, will skip a start in the rotation and make his next start on May 12 against Cleveland.
• Leyland said there was no timetable for the return of right-hander Octavio Dotel, who was placed on the 15-day DL on April 20 with right elbow inflammation. Leyland said on Friday that Dotel was feeling good, with his next step to throw some before heading out on a rehab assignment.
• Tigers pitchers have combined for 10-plus strikeouts in the past seven games, an AL record.
• Both the Tigers and Astros pitchers recorded 18 strikeouts in Thursday's game, marking only the third time in Major League history both teams had at least 18 strikeouts in the same contest.
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.