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Verlander puts interleague unbeaten streak on line vs. Arizona
(SportsNetwork.com) - After struggling at home to begin the second half, the Detroit Tigers hope to extend their road success on Monday night in the first of three straight meetings with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It also helps to have former MVP Justin Verlander squaring off against an NL opponent as well.
The Tigers lost the first three of a four-game series with the Cleveland Indians coming out of the All-Star break, getting swept in a doubleheader on Saturday. However, they were able to salvage the finale 5-1 on Sunday thanks to Torii Hunter's two-run homer and seven solid innings by Drew Smyly.
Detroit snapped a four-game slide and still sits 5 1/2 games up on Cleveland for first place in the AL Central. The Tigers also moved to just 26-25 at home compared to a 28-16 mark on the road.
"I think Smyly's performance probably stands out. (He) kind of gave us really what we needed, going seven innings, having played three games the last two days, holding them to one run," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.
Verlander didn't give up any runs the last and only other time he has faced the Diamondbacks. During that June 25, 2011 outing in Detroit, the righty struck out 14 over eight scoreless innings of a 6-0 win, scattering four hits and a walk.
That win is part of Verlander's current 14-start unbeaten streak against the NL dating back to June 27, 2010. He is 12-0 in that time with a 2.12 ERA.
Verlander beat the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 8 to extend his interleague success and win a second straight start, but was undone by one inning in a 5-2 setback to Kansas City on July 13. All four runs he allowed in the loss came in the seventh inning, a frame that saw him record just one out before his exit.
"Just a fluky seventh really," said Verlander, who had yielded just two hits before the frame and lost for the first time since June 16.
The 31-year-old Verlander fell to 8-8 with a 4.88 ERA.
Vidal Nuno will make his third start with Arizona since being acquired from the New York Yankees and has been almost flawless with the Diamondbacks minus one pitch.
Nuno hurled seven scoreless innings of a no-decision versus Miami on July 8 in his Arizona debut before taking a 6-4 loss at San Francisco on July 13. He was charged with four runs, all on a grand slam by Buster Posey in the fifth inning, Nuno's last of the outing.
The left-hander, who turns 27 on July 26, went 2-5 with a 5.42 ERA with the Yankees and will face Detroit for the first time.
Arizona opened the second half with a three-game sweep of the Chicago Cubs, marking the first time since June 3-5 that the club has won three in a row. A victory in tonight's opener would give the Diamondbacks their longest winning streak of the season.
The Tigers have taken two of three from the Diamondbacks in each of the last two meetings, taking place in 2010 and 2011 in Detroit. Arizona won two of three when the teams last squared off in Arizona back in 2008.
07/21 10:59:40 ET
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