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Justin Verlander Takes Mound For Tigers Against Nationals

(Sports Network) - Detroit's Justin Verlander was passed over by a National League team before becoming the second overall pick of the 2004 draft.

The Senior Circuit has been paying for it ever since.

Verlander puts his stellar interleague record on the line this evening when the Tigers go for a fifth straight victory over the Washington Nationals in the continuation of a three-game set at Comerica Park.

The 27-year-old Verlander was grabbed second overall by the Tigers in the 2004 draft after the San Diego Padres selected shortstop Matt Bush first overall. While the latter might never play in a major league game, Verlander has already been selected to a pair of All-Star Games and was the AL Rookie of the Year in 2006.

Verlander has also dominated the NL since entering the league, as Friday's 6-2 victory over the Pirates improved the right-hander to 10-1 with a 2.88 earned run average in 14 interleague starts. He held Pittsburgh to two runs on four hits and four walks over seven-plus innings, marking the fifth start in a row that Verlander has pitched at least seven frames even though the hurler admitted he didn't have his best stuff.

"He's got great stuff, but he wasn't locating the ball where he wanted to," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "That was by his own admission cause he said afterwards he was having trouble locating. He was able to get some quick outs early and that saved him for later on."

The Old Dominion product is 7-4 with a 3.56 ERA this year and faces the Nationals for the first time.

He'll be looking to extend Detroit's winning streak over Washington after the Tigers notched a 7-4 triumph last night. Starting in place of the injured Austin Jackson (back), Ryan Raburn drove in four runs, three on a fifth-inning homer that was his first long ball of the season, and scored twice.

Jackson, who is batting .308 in 60 games this year, is day-to-day and Raburn could start again over the rookie tonight when Detroit goes for its season- high-tying fifth straight victory overall. The Tigers, who have won 33 of their last 39 interleague games at home, are still 2 1/2 games back of the first-place Twins in the AL Central.

Magglio Ordonez, returning from a six-game absence due to an oblique injury, matched a career high with four hits and Brandon Inge had a hit and is batting .350 (14-for-40) on a 10-game homestand.

Max Scherzer struggled early and allowed four runs -- three earned -- over six innings with nine strikeouts. Jose Valverde worked around a pair of walks to record his 14th save of the season.

"Scherzer settled in a little bit and we got some big hits," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Nyjer Morgan had two hits, scored twice and stole a pair of bases and Mike Morse homered for the Nationals, who have lost three of their last four. Josh Willingham added a pair of hits and an RBI.

John Lannan failed to make it through five innings for the second straight start as he allowed seven runs -- six earned -- over just 4 1/3 frames to suffer the loss.

"All we can do is put him out there and hope that he starts showing up again," Nationals manager Jim Riggleman said. "It's been rough for him this year."

Tonight, Riggleman sends out Livan Hernandez in the hopes the veteran hurler can continue his solid 2010 season.

The 35-year-old beat the Pirates on Thursday, allowing two runs over six innings to mark the 10th time in 12 starts this year he has allowed two runs or fewer. Still, Hernandez picked up his first win since May 4 and improved to 5-3 on the season with a 2.28 ERA.

The right-hander has faced the Tigers just once before, doing so on May 2, 2008 while with the Twins. Hernandez allowed just one run -- an Ordonez homer -- over seven innings of an 11-1 route.

The Tigers swept a three-game series versus the Nationals in Washington when the clubs last met in 2007 and are hosting the Nats franchise for the first time since the Montreal Expos came to town back in 2002. Detroit took two of three in that set.