The Tampa Bay Rays were expecting a tough game against Justin Verlander and that’s exactly how it played out.
Verlander became the first 19-game winner in the majors, Alex Avila hit his 15th homer and the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beat the Rays, 5-2, last night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“He’s just not out there throwing, trying to throw 100 miles per hour,’’ Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “He pitches. He has a definite idea of what he’s doing. He’s blessed with a very good arm, but he’s also a pitcher.’’
Verlander (19-5) won his seventh consecutive start, giving up one run and three hits in seven innings. The 19 wins match his career high, set in 2009.
The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the second when Avila hit a two-run shot off Jeff Niemann (8-5). The All-Star catcher is 25 for 59 (.424) with five homers and 14 RBIs this month.
Niemann, who was 7-0 in his 10 previous starts, allowed four runs and six hits over 7 1/3 innings.
Jhonny Peralta made it 4-1 in the eighth on a two-out, two-run single off reliever Juan Cruz. The hit came after Jake McGee, who replaced Niemann with the bases loaded and one out, struck out Avila.
Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde, who gave up a solo homer in the ninth to Evan Longoria, both pitched one inning to complete a six-hitter.
Brewers 8, Pirates 1; Pirates 9, Brewers 2 - Ryan Doumit homered and drove in two runs as host Pittsburgh ended more than a year of futility against Milwaukee with a win in the second game of a doubleheader.
The Brewers took the opener for their 13th straight victory over Pittsburgh, but the Pirates pounded Milwaukee ace Zack Greinke in the second game.
Greinke (12-5) gave up seven runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings in losing for the first time in a month. The defeat was just the fourth in the last 23 games for the NL Central-leading Brewers, who lost to the Pirates for the first time since July 21, 2010.
In the opener, lefthander Chris Narveson came off the disabled list and pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning. He also knocked in two runs.
Narveson gave up five hits, walked one and struck out three before being forced to leave with one out in the sixth after the nail on his left middle finger started to tear.
Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 1 - Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer, Ross Detwiler took a four-hitter into the seventh inning, and host Washington shut down Arizona to extend the Diamondbacks’ losing streak to a season-high six games.
Henry Blanco homered for the Diamondbacks, who have scored only seven runs in their last six games. Mired in its longest skid since a seven-game run in July 2010, Arizona now leads second-place San Francisco by just one game in the NL West.
Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1 - Aaron Miles’s RBI triple keyed a two-run, ninth inning rally to lift visiting Los Angeles.
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter, who has never lost to Los Angeles, dominated the Dodgers for eight innings, shutting them out on five hits. Carpenter took a 1-0 lead into the ninth, but then hit Juan Rivera to start the frame.
Manager Tony La Russa brought in Arthur Rhodes, who struck out Andre Ethier. La Russa then went back to his bullpen, but that move backfired when Miles tripled to right center off Fernando Salas (5-5) to tie the game at 1-1.
La Russa then went to Jason Motte, who got Rod Barajas to ground sharply to short. But shortstop Rafael Furcal bobbled the ball briefly, allowing Miles to score the go-ahead run.
Braves 3, Cubs 0 - Jair Jurrjens pitched in and out of trouble for 6 1/3 innings, Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman homered, and Atlanta beat host Chicago for its fifth straight win.
Jurrjens (13-5) allowed eight hits and walked five. The Cubs stranded 11 runners in the first six innings.
Uggla’s shot gave him 30 home runs for the fifth straight season. No other second baseman in major league history has reached 30 homers more than three times overall.
Mariners 3, Indians 2 - Franklin Gutierrez lifted a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the ninth inning and visiting Seattle scored the go-ahead run without getting a hit to beat Cleveland.
The Indians, swept by AL Central-leading Detroit over the weekend, lost their fourth in a row.
Cleveland closer Chris Perez (2-6) hit both Miguel Olivo and Brendan Ryan with pitches to start the ninth. Perez then compounded his problems by dropping a sacrifice bunt by Trayvon Robinson, loading the bases with no outs.
Ichiro Suzuki, who already had three hits, struck out. But Gutierrez, formerly of the Indians, hit a fly to medium center field and Olivo barely beat Ezequiel Carrera’s one-hop throw home.
Orioles 4, Twins 1 - J.J. Hardy homered against the team that traded him in the offseason, Zach Britton won for the first time in 10 weeks, and Baltimore snapped a five-game losing streak by beating host Minnesota.
Matt Wieters also homered, Ryan Adams added an RBI after being recalled from Triple A Norfolk and Nick Markakis delivered an RBI double.
Phillies 10, Mets 0 - Cliff Lee threw seven sharp innings and John Mayberry Jr. and Hunter Pence each hit a two-run homer to lift host Philadelphia.
The Phillies rocked Dillon Gee (11-5) to earn their major league-best 82d win. They have a comfortable lead over Atlanta in pursuit of their fifth straight NL East title.
Lee (14-7) allowed three hits, walked three, and struck out seven. The 2008 AL Cy Young Award winner is 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA this month.
Rockies 9, Astros 5 - Jhoulys Chacin threw seven solid innings and had a two-run double and Carlos Gonzalez homered and drove in three runs to help host Colorado beat Houston.