CHICAGO – It was just one pitch, but Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers can only hope it turns out to be a turning point in their season.
Verlander turned in one of his most effective outings this year and once again beat the White Sox, leading the Detroit Tigers past Chicago 7-1 Friday night.
The right-hander showed some of his former Cy Young form, particularly to wiggle out of a jam in the first inning. After Verlander’s wild pickoff throw set up a sacrifice fly by Adam Dunn, Verlander reached back to strike out Tyler Flowers on a 153 kph fastball and leave the bases loaded.
“Yeah, you can’t put your team in a 3-0 deficit right away,” Verlander said. “I made a bad throw to allow those guys to score an easy run. Once the bases are loaded, you’re thinking, ‘All right, just leave the damage where it’s at and make a pitch here.’ “
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus was also glad to see Verlander get out of the tough spot.
“I’ve always said the first inning is the toughest inning for a starter,” Ausmus said. “To get out of the inning was very important.”
The contending Tigers won for the fifth time in six games. Chicago has lost nine of 10.
Verlander (12-11) beat the White Sox for the 14th time in 18 decisions since June 10, 2009 — the most wins by any pitcher against a single team in that span.
The former AL MVP allowed one run and nine hits in seven innings. It was the first time this year that he allowed fewer than two runs in a game.
“I’m just trying to execute better pitches, not walk so many guys and get ahead in the count,” said Verlander, whose numbers began to trend upward since the All-Star break. “I know (the talent) is still there to be the guy I want to be. I just got to find it.”
Verlander matched his season high with eight strikeouts and walked two. Seven of the strikeouts came in his last three innings.
“The first half of his game was good,” Ausmus said. “The second half was very good.”
J.D. Martinez had a double and two singles for Detroit. The Tigers got 13 hits, including five doubles.
Scott Carroll (5-9) took the loss but didn’t get much support in the field. He allowed seven runs, only three of which were earned.
First baseman Jose Abreu had three hits for Chicago, but his two errors helped the Tigers score five times in the fourth for a 7-1 lead.
After Victor Martinez hit a grounder that handcuffed Abreu for an error, Nick Castellanos’ groundout and Alex Avila’s double drove in two runs. Eugenio Suarez followed with a single before Ezequiel Carrera’s high bouncer glanced off the tip of Abreu’s glove for a run-scoring miscue. Ian Kinsler’s fielder’s choice groundout and Torii Hunter’s double capped the rally.
Abreu left the game after the seventh because of what appeared to be a minor hamstring injury.
“He’s fine,” manager Robin Ventura said. “I think he’s just tired.”
Orioles 9, Twins 1
In Baltimore, Chris Davis hit his fourth career grand slam, and the Orioles got a dominating pitching performance from Miguel Gonzalez.
Delmon Young also homered for the AL East-leading Orioles, who built an 8-0 lead in the fifth inning against rookie Trevor May (0-4).
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3
In Toronto, Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley homered for victorious New York.
The Yankees’ Ichiro Suzuki was 1-for-4 and scored a run.
For the Blue Jays, Munenori Kawasaki had a pinch-hit single in the eighth inning.
Red Sox 8, Rays 4
In St. Petersburg, Florida, rookie Mookie Betts hit his first career grand slam and Anthony Ranaudo pitched six effective innings, leading Boston to the road win.
Rangers 13, Astros 6
In Houston, Michael Choice and Rougned Odor each hit a three-run homer, powering Texas to the win.
Angels 4, Athletics 0
In Anaheim, Jered Weaver outpitched Jon Lester and Albert Pujols hit his 516th career homer as Los Angeles blanked Oakland.
Indians 6, Royals 1
In Kansas City, Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer to help Cleveland to its fifth win in six games.
Royals leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki was 1-for-5.
Giants 13, Brewers 2
In San Francisco, Buster Posey went 5-for-5, including a triple, and drove in three runs in just six innings, then was pulled early as the Giants earned the fourth straight win.
Padres 3, Dodgers 2 (12)
In San Diego, Yasmani Grandal singled in the winning run with two outs in the 12th inning.
Pirates 2, Reds 1
In Pittsburgh, Josh Harrison hit an RBI triple and scored on Jose Tabata’s tiebreaking single in the eighth inning.
Cubs 7, Cardinals 2
In St. Louis, Jorge Soler hit two homers for Chicago, and fellow rookie Javier Baez had a tiebreaking two-run double in the eighth inning off All-Star reliever Pat Neshek.
Mets 4, Phillies 1
In New York, Jacob deGrom pitched seven crisp innings and the Mets scored the tiebreaking runs when left fielder Grady Sizemore dropped an easy pop fly.
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 2
In Phoenix, Jake Lamb hit a grand slam for his second career homer.
Braves 5, Marlins 2
In Atlanta, Justin Upton homered and had three RBIs, Jason Heyward drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Nationals 8, Mariners 3
In Seattle, Anthony Rendon hit one of Washington’s four homers off Felix Hernandez, and the Nationals showed off their power while snapping a three-game losing streak.