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Unsung hero: Austin Jackson gets a leg up

DETROIT -- Austin Jackson was pressing at the plate. Maybe it was playing the first two ALCS games in Arlington, Texas, just a 45-minute drive south from his hometown of Denton. Or maybe it was his leg kick.

Jackson worked with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon before Tuesday's Game 3 on orders from manager Jim Leyland, and the leg kick was at the top of the to-do list.

"We were working on my leg kick and just trying to get that timing down," Jackson said. "That's the main thing, just trying to get me going, trying to get me going, trying to get my timing down."

Jackson's leg kick and his timing looked just fine as he played a pivotal role in the Tigers taking a 5-2 win to cut the Rangers' series lead in half. The center fielder and lead-off hitter went 3-for-5 Tuesday night, slapping three consecutive singles in the third, fifth and sixth. He came around with the go-ahead run in the fifth for a 2-1 lead and drove in Andy Dirks for a 4-1 margin in the sixth.

Entering Game 3, Jackson was 1-for-9 in the ALCS with six strikeouts.

"You try not to let it weight on you," the 24-year-old Jackson said. "Being a leadoff hitter, you try to spark the team a little bit. When it's not going as well as you want it to, you kind of take it to heart a little bit. I'm just trying to do whatever I can do to get on base, get in scoring position and try to let the guys behind me drive me in."

That's exactly what happened as big boppers Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez will get most of the offensive headlines. Cabrera doubled Jackson home and later hit a solo homer in the seventh, and Martinez led off the fourth with a home run.

For Jackson, it all comes back to the leg kick. In one night he shook off an 0-for-6 slump and boosted his postseason average to .286.

"When the timing is off with the leg kick everything is kind of out of whack," Jackson said. "Just trying to find that timing and find the groove is tough."