ARLINGTON, Texas — Colby Lewis needed a couple of innings to figure out that he should throw more than just his fastball.
Lewis started doing a better job of mixing his pitches after giving up four runs in the first two innings, and the Texas Rangers went on to an 8-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Lewis (3-0) threw 50 pitches and allowed eight baserunners in the opening two innings before settling down, getting 16 consecutive outs from the second through the seventh.
A mound visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux in the second helped convince Lewis to change his approach.
“I just kind of got out of rhythm,” Lewis said. “I was using my fastball too much. (Maddux) said, ‘Mix in your off-speed stuff. Don’t get too comfortable with your fastball.”’
Lewis, who spent the last two seasons with Hiroshima of the Japan’s Central League, matched a career high with 10 strikeouts and allowed four runs and seven hits over 6 1-3 innings.
“Colby was outstanding,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He got off to a rough start, but he righted the ship. He was throwing his pitches a little too much over the plate. Then he got a feel for his breaking ball, and got the fastball down in the zone. He showed he can come out there and struggle, and still get it done.”
Michael Young had three hits and drove in five runs, and David Murphy homered in support of Lewis.
“We needed one of our guys in the middle of that lineup to come through, and Michael did it,” Washington said. “I can’t say enough about what he can do in crucial situations.”
Tigers rookie Austin Jackson hit his first major league homer, leading off the game with a 410-foot shot off Lewis’ 2-0 pitch that sailed onto the grass hitter’s background in center field.
Ramon Santiago followed with a single, and Santiago raced home on Johnny Damon’s double that stretched his hitting streak to 12 games. Don Kelly’s RBI single later in the first made it 3-0.
Murphy’s first homer of a season, a two-run drive in the first, got the Rangers within a run, but the Tigers moved to a 4-2 lead in the second on Santiago’s RBI single.
“After the first inning, I was like ‘I’ve got to clean things up,”’ Lewis said. “Our bullpen has been run out there a lot. But the guys stepped up huge coming back with two in the first after giving up three early.”
Texas answered with a four-run second as Tigers starter Rick Porcello (1-2) issued a bases-loaded walk to Elvis Andrus and Young followed with a bases-clearing double.
Porcello gave up six runs and 10 hits over four innings before he was replaced by Dontrelle Willis, who was scratched from Saturday night’s start due to flulike symptoms.
Willis, who’s scheduled to start again on Thursday at home against Minnesota, walked three in the fifth, and two scored on Young’s single that boosted Texas’ advantage to 8-4.
Texas’ Vladimir Guerrero avoided serious injury in the fourth when he ducked out of the way of Porcello’s high and inside pitch that seemed headed for Guerrero’s face. The ball struck Guerrero in the shoulder.
Porcello, a 14-game winner as a rookie last season, has allowed six runs in each of his last two starts to swell his ERA to 7.91.
“I’m giving up way too many belt-high fastballs,” Porcello said. “When you do that, you’re gonna get hit. I’ve got to do a lot better job of getting the ball down. Today was a poor effort of that. I take full responsibility.”
Tigers starters continue to struggle, which has overextended the bullpen.
Manager Jim Leyland said his starters must provide more innings.
“It’s simple,” Leyland said. “This is about pitching, and right now our starting pitching has not pitched well.”
NOTES: Young is the Rangers’ all-time leader with 495 multihit games. … Leyland said he would not use “under any circumstances” three members of his overworked relief corps: RHPs Joel Zumaya and Eddie Bonine and LHP Brad Thomas. “I’ve been around long enough to know that you’ve got to protect your pitching,” Leyland said. “You start using guys too much and they’re gonna get hurt, you can take it to the bank.” … Detroit OF Magglio Ordonez got the day off, as did Texas OF Josh Hamilton. Hamilton started the day hitting .230 with 15 strikeouts. … Texas C Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still having occasional trouble throwing back to the pitcher during his rehab assignment for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Saltalamacchia, on the 15-day DL with an upper back strain, experienced the same throwing problem in his two games for the Rangers at the start of the season.