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Tigers Welcome Slumping Angels To Town

(Sports Network) - Both the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers are fading in their respective division-title races. Good news is that one club has to win tonight when the two teams kick off a three-game series at Comerica Park.

Both teams will be sending out their aces for tonight's openers, as the Angels' Jered Weaver opposes Justin Verlander of the Tigers in a matchup of 2004 first-round picks.

Weaver, grabbed 12th overall by the Angels, has split his last four starts despite a solid 2.33 earned run average. He is coming off a win on Sunday in which he held the Rangers to just one unearned run and four hits over seven innings, walking three and striking out seven.

The 27-year-old righty is 10-7 with a 3.04 ERA this year and has pitched at least six innings in 14 straight starts dating back to May 23.

Weaver is 2-3 with a 6.51 ERA in seven career starts versus the Tigers, losing to Verlander on May 2 after giving up four runs over 4 2/3 innings. Verlander, meanwhile, hurled 8 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit ball that day to improve to 3-2 with a 4.44 ERA in eight matchups with the Angels.

The 27-year-old second overall pick of 2004, Verlander had a four-decision winning streak end with a loss at Tampa on July 27, then did not factor into the decision of his team's 4-3 loss at Boston on Monday. The right-hander gave up three runs on six hits over seven innings with eight strikeouts.

Verlander is 12-6 with a 3.74 ERA this year and has won five straight starts at home, where he hasn't lost since May 31 and is 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA this season.

Both the Angels and Tigers are coming off Thursday losses, with Los Angeles falling 10 games off the pace for first place in the American League West, while Detroit has dropped nine games back in the AL Central.

Los Angeles erased a four-run deficit to Baltimore in the eighth inning yesterday, getting a three-run homer from Torii Hunter in the frame and an RBI hit by Bobby Abreu. However, closer Francisco Rodriguez gave up a game-winning RBI single to Cesar Izturis in the bottom of the ninth to earn the Angels' their 11th loss in 14 games.

"I think [new O's manager Buck Showalter] really sparked those guys," Hunter said. "We just couldn't come through. They just seemed like they wanted it more."

Detroit also wasted a late rally on Thursday versus Chicago. Pinch-hitter Ryan Raburn hit a game-tying, three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth for the Tigers to force extra innings, but Jose Valverde yielded two runs in the 11th inning of a 6-4 setback.

"We got the big one there in the last inning to tie it up, but we couldn't hold it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We didn't do much offensively the whole game."

Don Kelly also hit a solo homer as the Tigers lost for the ninth time in 11 games.

The Tigers have ripped off five straight victories over the Angels since losing the first two meetings this year. That includes a three-game sweep at home from April 30-May 2, as Detroit has won nine of the last 12 meetings.