HOUSTON - The night didn't end well for Houston reliever Dallas Keuchel.
Still, the 4 1-3 innings he pitched in a 14 inning game against Detroit were invaluable in saving Houston's bullpen.
Don Kelly had an RBI single to start a four-run 14th inning and the Tigers beat the Astros 7-3 Thursday night.
The Tigers tied it in the eighth with help from right fielder Rick Ankiel's error.
Austin Jackson led off the 14th with a ground-rule double. Jackson advanced to third on a groundout by Torii Hunter before Houston intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to load the bases.
Kelly's dribbling grounder to right field scored Jackson and chased Keuchel (0-1), who came in to start the 10th.
"Can you imagine where we would have been tonight had we had seven guys in the bullpen that are one-inning guys," Houston manager Bo Porter said. "We would probably be making three or four transactions tonight after the game just to be in shape for tomorrow's game."
Porter was impressed with Keuchel's work despite his taking the loss.
"It's a good-hitting ballclub," Porter said. "To their credit they put together a pretty good inning there to get the four runs, but Keuchel did a tremendous job."
Keuchel, who was recalled from Triple-A on Thursday, lamented his inability to finish the game.
"I felt good," he said. "It's just (that) to go so far and then come up short is pretty disheartening and pretty disappointing. Hats off to their lineup for keep getting after me."
Keuchel took pride in helping save the bullpen on Thursday and shared a conversation he had with pitching coach Doug Brocail.
"I said, 'Hey, I'm going however many you need me to go,'" Keuchel said. "If the game went 20 innings, I was willing to go 10 innings.
That's just something I want to do. I want to help the team out."
Matt Tuiasosopo's two-run double made it 6-3 before Detroit added a run on a sacrifice fly by Jhonny Peralta.
Luke Putkonen (1-0), who was called up from Triple-A on Thursday, allowed no hits in the last 2 1-3 innings for the win in a game that took 4 hours, 50 minutes.
Jason Castro had a two-run homer in first and Carlos Pena added a solo shot in the fourth to give Houston a 3-2 lead.
It was Houston's first extra-inning game of the season and comes after the team arrived from a road trip in New York at about 3 a.m. Thursday.
Detroit had a runner at third with one out in the 13th, but Keuchel retired the next two to end the threat.
Both teams hit a single in a scoreless 12th.
The Tigers had a shot to win it in the 11th. Matt Tuiasosopo drew a walk with two outs and Peralta followed with a single to shallow right field. Pinch-hitter Brayan Pena singled to right field, but Rick Ankiel made a perfect throw home to allow Jason Castro to tag Tuiasosopo out.
The Tigers tied it at 3 when Victor Martinez singled to right field with two outs in the eighth inning. Ankiel couldn't corral the ball and then slipped throwing it in for an error that allowed Fielder to score from first and Martinez to reach second.
The 5-foot-11, 275-pound Fielder, certainly not known for his speed, chugged around the bases and slid into home before bouncing up and leaping into the air.
"It was unfortunate that Ankiel didn't field the ball cleanly and make the throw," Porter said. "Fielder probably would not have scored from first had we executed that play. But I felt like we did the right thing."
Fielder got on when he was plunked in the arm by Wesley Wright.
This series is Detroit's second trip to Minute Maid Park and the first since June 2009. It is the start of a season-long, 10-game homestand for Houston.
Houston struck out 18 times. Detroit pitchers have struck out 10 or more batters in each of their last seven games, which extends an American League record, said the Tigers, citing information from the Elias Sports Bureau.
But Houston's staff also struck out plenty of Detroit batters, finishing with 18.
Detroit starter Rick Porcello struck out seven with five hits and three runs in a season-high seven innings.
Rookie Robbie Grossman hit a leadoff double before the homer by Castro, to the Crawford Boxes in left field, put Houston up 2-0 in the first.
Hunter had a run-scoring single in the third. Cabrera then collected his 1,000th hit as a Tiger with a line drive that sailed over the head of Houston starter Jordan Lyles and into the outfield for an RBI single which tied it 2-all.
Pena put Houston back on top 3-2 with his one-out first-pitch homer to the Crawford Boxes in the fourth inning.
Pena bunted to start Houston's seventh and reached on an error by Porcello when he overthrew first base. Pena, who at 34 is Houston's oldest player, then made a baserunning blunder on the play when he tried to take second and was easily out.
Lyles yielded six hits over five innings, allowing two runs with six strikeouts in his first start of the season after being recalled from Triple-A on Thursday. He was added to the rotation after manager Bo Porter demoted Brad Peacock to the bullpen earlier this week.
Grossman robbed Martinez of a hit in the second inning when he sprinted and extended his glove to make a nifty catch just inside shy of the wall in left-centre in the second inning.
NOTES: A man caught a foul ball which bounced in the dirt before sailing into the stands with his baseball cap while holding a small child in the 13th. ... Cabrera, who joined the Tigers for the 2008 season, is the 30th player in franchise history to get 1,000 hits with Detroit. A bit of comic relief came in the 10th when Chris Carter lost his bat on a swing, and Cabrera held out his glove like he was going to catch it as it crashed just in front of him at third. ... Houston optioned RHPs Brad Peacock and Rhiner Cruz to Triple-A Oklahoma City.