Justin Verlander aims to win his fourth straight start and bring the Detroit Tigers closer to the AL Central title Saturday afternoon in the continuation of a three-game series against the Minnesota Twins.
The Tigers, who suffered a 4-2 loss last night, enter the day clinging to a one-game lead over the Chicago White Sox.
Verlander has lost just once in his last 10 starts, with that defeat coming on the road against the Angels Sept. 8. The right-hander, who leads the majors with 231 strikeouts, has given up just two runs over his last three starts. He's 11-7 with a 3.37 ERA lifetime against the Twins.
P.J. Walters, who will make his 12th start of 2012, is 0-3 over his last eight appearances. The right-hander is coming off a no-decision at Detroit on Sunday. He's 1-0 with a 3.10 ERA in four games (3 starts) versus the Tigers.
Last night, Ryan Doumit clubbed a two-run homer in the seventh inning and then hit the tie-breaking two-run double in the eighth.
Detroit's Omar Infante tied the contest with a two-run shot in the eighth inning, but with the bases full in the bottom half, Doumit lined a hit to center field, giving him a career-high 71 RBI on the season.
"That's a good team over there. It's a team that's had our number all year long. It's nice to go out there and play the role of spoiler," Doumit said. "That's what we have to play for from here on out."
Scott Diamond threw the first 7 1/3 innings for the Twins. Jared Burton (3-1) got the win and Glen Perkins retired the side in order in the ninth for his 16th save.
The Twins also came up huge defensively. Diamond gave up three straight singles in the sixth inning, the last to right field by Delmon Young. Ben Revere threw a strike to home plate to get Miguel Cabrera out at the plate to keep the game scoreless.
"The key for me has been working down in the zone, getting back to throwing strikes. The defense was huge," Diamond said.
Drew Smyly, filling in for Max Scherzer, allowed two hits over the first 5 1/3 innings for the Tigers.
"I know what you have to do up here to get wins. Our starting pitcher did enough of that tonight for us. We just didn't do the other things to win this game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
The teams have split 16 matchups this season.
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