Detroit Tigers right fielder J.D. Martinez (28). Photo by Shelley Lipton/UPI | License Photo
DETROIT -- J.D. Martinez couldn't believe the standing ovation he received when he stepped to the plate. Moments later, he ignited the home crowd again with a game-changing blast.
Martinez launched a go-ahead, solo home run in his first at-bat since June 16, lifting the Detroit Tigers to their eighth straight victory, a 2-1 decision over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday at Comerica Park.
"That was probably the coolest moment of my career," he said.
Martinez, who was activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day, jumped on the first offering from White Sox ace Chris Sale in the eighth inning. The left-center-field blast was the second career pinch-hit home run by Martinez, who had been sidelined due to a fractured right elbow.
His only other pinch homer came on May 19, 2014, against the Cleveland Indians.
Martinez didn't hit a home run during eight rehab games in the minors, but he got a charge from the standing ovation he received when he pinch-hit for James McCann.
"You feed off that energy," said Martinez, who was goaded into taking a curtain call by his teammates. "That's kind of how I felt right there. I wasn't expecting that kind of ovation that they gave me. That was awesome. If I could thank the fans individually, I'd do it."
Shane Greene (2-2) picked up the victory with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, including two strikeouts. Martinez's home run made the win memorable for Greene.
"Tonight was really special. What J.D. did was really special," Greene said. "The crowd appreciated it and the dugout was going pretty crazy, too. Some of us were dropping our jaws and some of us were cheering."
Francisco Rodriguez escaped a bases-loaded jam to notch his 30th save in his 900th career appearance. He is the 25th pitcher in major league history to have 900 appearances.
"He might have been a little rusty," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He hadn't pitched in about a week."
Detroit starter Michael Fulmer held the White Sox to one run on five hits over 6 2/3 innings but wound up with his fourth straight no-decision. The defense turned three double plays behind him.
"He kept getting that double-play ball," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "That's the one thing that kept killing us. They have a great defense. Their middle infield is as good as any in the league."
Nick Castellanos drove in the other Tigers run with a fourth-inning double.
Sale (14-5) pitched an eight-inning complete game, giving up two runs on six hits and one walk with a season-high 10 strikeouts. He retired 11 consecutive batters before Martinez's home run.
"He was as sharp as he's been all year," Ventura said. "The tough inning was the fourth, a ball that falls in down the line. I thought he did a great job of getting out of that. Then the homer, that one was going to go out anywhere."
The Tigers broke opened the scoring in the fourth inning.
Miguel Cabrera led off with a double. After a walk to Victor Martinez, Castellanos blooped a double to right, knocking in Cabrera. The Tigers failed to push any more runs across that inning as Justin Upton struck out and Victor Martinez was thrown out trying to score on Mike Aviles' short flyout.
Justin Morneau tied it with his two-out solo homer in the seventh, his third of the season. He blasted a three-run homer off Fulmer in Chicago on July 22.
Following the long ball, Fulmer walked his only batter and hit Avisail Garcia with a pitch. Ausmus brought in Greene, who struck out Dioner Navarro.
NOTES: White Sox CF Charlie Tilson was placed on the 15-day disabled list and will undergo season-ending surgery Thursday to repair a torn left hamstring, manager Robin Ventura announced. Tilson was injured in his major league debut Tuesday while chasing after a Miguel Cabrera double. "It's crazy. It's unfortunate," Ventura said. "You feel for the kid." ... Chicago recalled OF J.B. Shuck from Triple-A Charlotte. Shuck was optioned to the minors the previous day to make room for Tilson. ... Detroit RHP Jordan Zimmermann (neck strain) will be activated from the 15-day disabled list for a Thursday start against the White Sox. The Tigers optioned RHP Dustin Molleken to Triple-A Toledo after Wednesday's game. ... Tigers RHP Justin Verlander was selected the American League Pitcher of the Month for July. He compiled a 4-0 record with a 1.69 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings over six starts.