DETROIT -- It was supposed to be all about Jacob Turner, one of Major League Baseball's top prospects who made his 2012 debut for the Tigers against the defending World Series champion Cardinals. But Quintin Berry found a way to steal the show again.
With the bases loaded in the 10th inning, Berry came to the plate and slapped a walk-off single up the middle to give Detroit a 2-1 victory over St. Louis and its fourth straight series win for the first time since the playoff drive last September.
"This is my first one ever," Berry said. "I've never had a walk-off before. ... I think that's why I was so excited about it. That's probably the best feeling. I always wondered what it felt like."
Ramon Santiago and Jhonny Peralta hit back-to-back singles off Cardinals reliever Victor Marte, who then hit Austin Jackson to load the bases with one out.
Berry, whose speed drew the Cardinals infield in rather than staying back for a double play, didn't want to wait to experience the thrill of a walk-off hit. He swung at the first pitch to drive the winning run home, and the celebration began.
"I showed it out there jumping around and acting crazy," said Berry. "You don't know what to do with yourself. I was just flailing around, everything I got. It's amazing."
The 27-year-old outfielder has been with four different organizations, and now he's the team leader in stolen bases, the only Tiger with a five-hit game, and owns a walk-off hit against the World Series champs.
His track record indicates he won't be able to keep up the pace -- he's hitting .315 and has never hit higher than .284 above A ball. But Berry isn't too concerned about track records.
"I'm just glad that things are rolling and going the way that they normally don't in those situations," Berry said.
Turner's path is quite different. He is regarded as one of the top prospects in baseball, ranked No. 10 in the league and No. 1 in the Tigers' system by MLB.com.
On Thursday, he made his fourth career start in front of a sold-out crowd of 40,776 at Comerica Park against the team he grew up rooting for.
"That was kind of just a crazy coincidence, knowing it had to be in Interleague Play and we don't play them every year," Turner said. "So that was exciting for me."
Turner fired five innings and yielded only one run on four hits. However, he uncharacteristically allowed five walks, which helped keep him from his first Major League win.
He entered the fifth inning having only allowed three hits and two walks, but the Cardinals earned three free passes in the inning, one of which came around to score the game-tying run on Matt Holliday's sacrifice fly. Right fielder Don Kelly made the catch on Holliday's ball in foul territory and hit his left knee on the railing while falling into the stands. He's day to day with a bruise.
"Obviously they're big league hitters, so they have a real good approach at the plate," Turner said. "But it just comes back to getting ahead early, getting 0-1, 0-2 and not 2-0."
Manager Jim Leyland said he wasn't sure if the outing earned Turner another start. It likely depends on the availability of Drew Smyly the next time the rotation comes around on Tuesday.
Regardless, catcher Alex Avila believes the 21-year-old has a promising career ahead of him.
"One of the reasons why I think he's going to be a great pitcher is everybody always talks about when Ricky [Porcello] came up real young, how composed he is," Avila said. "Jacob's the same way. He really puts everything he has into his pitching. It's great to work with him."
Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse held the Tigers to one run on four hits in seven innings. He made only one costly mistake.
In the fourth inning, Lohse left a 3-2 curveball hanging to Prince Fielder, and the Tigers slugger powered a solo shot 425 feet into the right-field seats. It was Detroit's only run until its extra-inning rally.
"It was one pitch you wish you could have back," Lohse said. "I was trying to bounce it, and I was about four feet away from bouncing it."
Leyland talked again about his team finding an edge and playing with grit. He told the media to take Thursday's game as an example. A rookie fought through five innings against one of baseball's best teams, Berry gutted out another huge hit, and the bullpen worked five scoreless innings to help move the Tigers within 2 1/2 games of the division lead and within a game of .500.
"The way we're playing, we're fighting for everything we get," Phil Coke said. "But instead of coming up short, it's kind of swinging in our favor now. We're winning multiple series now. Every game we go out, strap up and rock and roll."
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.