DETROIT -- Justin Verlander lost to the Mariners twice this year. This time, he had one of his best outings of the season.
Verlander struck out 10 in seven strong innings and Brandon Inge drove in three runs to help the Detroit Tigers beat Seattle 6-1 on Saturday night.The victory, coupled with Minnesota 's 8-6 loss to Tampa Bay, left the Tigers and Twins tied atop the AL Central.Verlander (10-5) struck out the side in the first and third and allowed just four baserunners in the first six innings. He gave up the only Seattle run in the seventh but averted further damage by getting Chone Figgins to ground out with the bases loaded."Sometimes with a guy like Justin, he gets some strikeouts like that, then he starts thinking about strikeouts -- maybe he gets out of whack," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "But he didn't do that tonight."He stayed pretty compact with his delivery, fell off a few pitches, but overall he was tremendous."Verlander finished one strikeout shy of his season high, set June 16 against Washington."We've beaten him twice this year and today was the best stuff he's had," Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said. "We couldn't get anything going."Verlander reached the 10-win plateau before the All-Star break for the fifth time in five seasons and recorded his 13th career double-digit strikeout game. He did not speak to reporters afterward.His victory came a night after teammate Max Scherzer limited the Mariners to three hits and struck out seven in eight innings for a victory.Inge's two-out single brought home Detroit's first two runs in the fourth. An inning later, Ryan Raburn and Magglio Ordonez hit consecutive doubles to start a four-run outburst that chased Seattle starter Jason Vargas (6-4). Carlos Guillen singled in a run and Inge got his third RBI with a groundout.Inge, who matched his season-best RBI total, said the Tigers don't need to think about where they sit in the standings -- at least not right now."Just play good baseball and everything else is going to take care of itself," he said after a 2-for-4 night. "Because we have a good team. We just need to play good and concentrate."Vargas, who lasted 4 1/3 innings, gave up a season-high six runs and lost his second straight start. He had gone nine straight starts without a loss."I didn't feel like they were all over me tonight," said Vargas, who gave up the first two runs with two outs. "They just had some balls get through for them."The Mariners had runners at second and third in the fourth but Verlander struck out Casey Kotchman to end the threat. They got their lone run in the seventh on Michael Saunders' infield single.After running into two straight strong starts, Seattle will be hoping to turn the tables in the series finale Sunday when ace Cliff Lee faces Jeremy Bonderman.Ryan Perry, activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, worked a scoreless eighth for Detroit before Jose Valverde pitched the ninth.Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, a late scratch from Friday's lineup with lower back stiffness, returned Saturday and doubled in the second inning to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. He finished 1 for 2 with two runs and a pair of walks.
A bat boy was helped off the field after being struck by a foul ball in the third inning. He returned an inning later. ... Wakamatsu said he still isn't sure who will start Tuesday and Wednesday against Kansas City. ... Detroit reinstated Perry (shoulder tendinitis) from the disabled list and optioned RHP Casey Fien to Triple-A Toledo before the game. ... Leyland said LHP Andy Oliver will replace Armando Galarraga in the rotation next weekend when Minnesota visits. Oliver lost his first two major league starts last month.