Verlander shines in blowout of Twins

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander throws against the Minnesota Twins in the first inning of a baseball game in Detroit Tuesday.

DETROIT — As erratic as the Detroit Tigers have looked at times this season, when Justin Verlander takes the mound, they seem like World Series contenders.

Verlander allowed one run over 7 2-3 innings to become baseball's first 18-game winner, and the first-place Tigers breezed to an easy 7-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night. Verlander labored through a 29-pitch first inning but settled down after that, allowing seven hits in another impressive outing.

"Every win's important for us right now," the Detroit ace said.

Detroit extended its lead in the AL Central to three games over the Cleveland Indians, who lost in 14 innings early Wednesday morning.

The Tigers had lost two in a row coming into the game, and their last eight wins had been by one run, but there wasn't much to sweat out on this night — especially with Verlander on the mound.


"He's a tough cookie. That's why he's about to win the Cy Young," Minnesota outfielder Ben Revere said. "When he's going like that, with that lineup, you don't have a chance. You have to figure on scoring five or six runs to beat them — tonight, it would have been eight — and that's not going to happen against him."

Verlander (18-5) struck out eight to surpass 200 on the year, walked one and lowered his ERA to 2.31.

Miguel Cabrera drove in three runs for the Tigers, and Ramon Santiago hit his third home run of the season, a solo shot in the sixth.

Nick Blackburn (7-10) allowed five runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Minnesota slugger Jim Thome was out of the starting lineup Tuesday, one night after hitting two home runs to reach 600 for his career. He did pinch-hit with two outs in the ninth, drawing a standing ovation from the Detroit crowd. That reception then morphed almost seamlessly into a celebration when Thome struck out to end the game.

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