DETROIT (AP) -- The Tigers' Justin Verlander is mired in the worst four-game stretch of his career, a career which began with a string of feats no pitcher had accomplished in baseball history.
The Toronto Blue Jays chased Verlander early and went on to beat Detroit 7-2 on Monday night.Verlander (8-13) lasted just 4 1/3 innings, giving up six runs and seven hits.
• Tigers DH Gary Sheffield is 5-for-33 in the month of August.
• Justin Verlander's ERA in his last four starts is 9.97. The Tigers righty has allowed six or more runs in three of those four outings.
• After allowing four or more runs in his previous four starts, Blue Jays pitcher Shawn Marcum has now thrown consecutive quality starts.
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He has given 24 earned runs over his last four starts -- the most he's allowed over four games -- losing each of them to equal the worst skid of his career."He's been in and out of sync all year," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "But his last start, he pitched tremendous."It's been a strange season for Verlander, who began the season 0-3 and fell to 1-7 after dropping four in a row. But then he seemed to turn things around, winning seven of nine and allowing two or fewer earned runs over eight starts."It's a funny game," Verlander said.Verlander is proof of that.He is the only pitcher ever to throw a no-hitter, start a World Series game, and be Rookie of the Year and an All-Star in his first two full seasons.The hard-throwing righty won 35 games the previous two years. He trailed only Dwight Gooden, who won 41 games for the New York Mets during the 1984-85 seasons, in victories among pitchers in their first two full seasons since 1970.Leyland chalked up his lackluster performance against Toronto to the 130-pitch outing he had last week against the Chicago White Sox."He just had a dead arm," Leyland said.The Blue Jays made the most of it, snapping a three-game skid in which they scored just four runs against Cleveland.They led off the second inning against Verlander with three straight singles, including a run-scoring one by Rod Barajas, who had three RBIs in the game. Adam Lind had a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.Verlander gave up a leadoff walk in the fourth followed by two singles and Barajas' sacrifice fly for the second run of the inning."He usually dominates me," Barajas said. "He's got a great fastball, great curve ball and his changeup is a plus pitch."It just seemed like he wasn't on his `A' game and we were able to take advantage of that."The Blue Jays ended Verlander's night in the fifth with a leadoff double, a walk and Alex Rios' RBI single.Barajas added a homer in the sixth off Aquilino Lopez.Toronto's Shaun Marcum (7-5) allowed two runs and eight hits over six innings."I'm locating my fastball now and that makes things a little easier for me," Marcum said after his second straight strong start.Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he only wished his team played like this more often."We played like you'd like to see about 95 games a year," Gaston said. "We pitched well, we hit the ball in key situations and we played some good defense."After getting into the AL Central race by going 31-16 from early June through late July, the Tigers have lost eight of their last 11 games.On a night when almost 40,000 fans didn't have much to cheer about, Miguel Cabrera continued his tear by hitting a line drive over the wall in center for his 24th homer and Brandon Inge also had a solo shot.Gary Sheffield, who was quoted in a Boston Globe story as saying he doesn't like his role on the Tigers and reiterated his stance Monday, was booed early and often as he went 0-for-3 with a walk and was the only Tiger without a hit.
Detroit OF Marcus Thames is expected to be out for a few days after an MRI showed only inflammation in his right shoulder. ... The Blue Jays released OF Shannon Stewart on Monday. Stewart hit .240 with one homer and 14 RBIs in 52 games this season before going on the DL with a sprained right ankle on June 7. ... Tigers LHP Dontrelle Willis fell to 0-3 Sunday at Single-A Lakeland, where he gave up four runs, six hits and two walks over 7 1/3 innings. .... Verlander's previous high in earned runs allowed over four games was 19, according to STATS. ... Toronto OF Vernon Wells was 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI.