PITTSBURGH — Justin Verlander “didn’t feel particularly great” Sunday.
So what did he do on a ho-hum day?
“We had the horse going,” said Detroit manager Jim Leyland, “and he pitched like the horse is supposed to pitch.”
Quintin Berry hit a two-run shot for his first major league home run. He also scored the go-ahead run on Delmon Young‘s single in the eighth, an inning after Garrett Jones tied it with a two-run homer.
“Stupid pitch,” Verlander said. “Bad location. All of the above.”
Five weeks after he took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Pirates in Detroit on May 18, that was the only mistake Verlander (8-4) would make.
He had allowed only two infield hits through six innings Sunday before Pedro Alvarez singled with one out in the seventh. Jones followed by launching a 1-1 changeup into a sliver of seating in right-center.
Verlander retired all six Pirates he faced to close out the game after the Tigers retook the lead. Verlander struck out three in the final two innings to give him seven in the game.
“That was not an easy order to go through in the ninth inning, and he took charge of that ninth inning pretty good,” Leyland said.
“That’s why he’s, in my opinion, the best pitcher in baseball,” Leyland said.
Verlander needed 117 pitches to toss his fourth complete game of the season and 18th of his career. He has won three consecutive starts.
“I actually didn’t feel particularly great,” Verlander said. “But at least my location was there. I was able to locate pretty well and got a lot of weak contact because of that. I didn’t have the flashy fastball or anything, but I was able to pitch and go nine innings.”
Detroit avoided a sweep, winning for only the second time in five games.
“I willed that thing out,” Berry said. “Ever since it went up in the air, I pushed it out with everything I had.”
Pittsburgh remained one game behind the Cincinnati Reds, who lost to Minnesota, in the NL Central.
The Tigers matched their run total for the first two games of the series combined before many in the crowd of 35,179 had even settled into their seats. The series drew 111,878 to PNC Park, the fifth-most for a three-game series at the 12-year-old ballpark.
Pittsburgh had won 16 of its past 20 at home and had already clinched its fifth consecutive series victory at PNC Park with consecutive 4-1 wins Friday and Saturday.
A sweep appeared out of the question once Verlander was handed a two-run lead. But Jones tied it with his ninth homer and second in four games.
“I was geared up to hit the fastball, but he hung a changeup and I was able to recognize it, stay through it and get the good part of the bat on it,” Jones said.
The tie lasted only a half-inning. Berry walked with one out and stole second. Chris Resop (0-3) intentionally walked Prince Fielder to face Young, who was 1 for 9 in the series until singling in his previous at-bat.
He singled to right to score Berry.
After allowing the home run two batters into the game, Correia retire 12 of the next 15 and did not allow another runner to advance past second.
“I pitched pretty good after (Berry’s homer),” Correia said, “but it’s tough to spot a guy like Verlander two runs. I knew after that that’s all I could give up if I was going to keep us in the game.”
Counting 5 1/3 shutout innings in a win against Minnesota Tuesday, Correia has put together two consecutive strong outings.
Correia was thought to be a candidate to be the odd man out of the rotation when Jeff Karstens was activated from the disabled list this week, but after the game the Pirates announced that Karstens would start Monday in Philadelphia.
Brad Lincoln is returning to the bullpen. The rest of the Pittsburgh rotation is being pushed back a day. A corresponding roster move will be made Monday.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle was ejected by home plate umpire Marty Foster for arguing a checked-swing call on McGehee. … Pittsburgh claimed INF/OF Drew Sutton off waivers from Tampa Bay. He will report to the team later in the week. The Pirates also recalled RHP Bryan Morris before the game and optioned INF Jordy Mercer to Triple-A. … The Tigers continue their road trip with three games in Texas. RHP Rick Porcello (4-5, 4.95) will start Monday. After Sunday’s game, the team announced LHP Drew Smyly will come off the disabled list to start Tuesday. RHP Jacob Turner was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.
Verlander goes the distance to down Pirates
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