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Tigers Turn To Their Ace Again To Prevent Sweep Vs. Indians

(Sports Network) – Justin Verlander hopes to become the majors’ first 17-game winner this evening and help the Detroit Tigers salvage the finale of their three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

Cleveland beat the Tigers for the 13th straight time at home on Wednesday, as Jason Kipnis went 5-for-5, falling a triple short of the cycle, while Ubaldo Jimenez got his first win in an Indians uniform in the 10-3 victory.

Kipnis belted a two-run homer among his three RBI and also scored four times as the Indians scattered 18 hits. The Tribe have taken the first two games of this series to move within two games of Detroit for first place in the AL Central.

Jimenez (1-0) pitched eight innings in his second start with Cleveland since being acquired from Colorado before the non-waiver trade deadline. He allowed three runs on six hits and a walk, striking out six, and earned his first win since July 19.

Detroit starter Rick Porcello (11-7) had his six-game personal unbeaten streak snapped with one of the worst outings of his three-year career. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up 11 hits and a career high-tying eight earned runs. It was the 22-year-old right-hander’s first loss since June 28.

“Both sides needed their starting pitcher to be pretty good tonight. Theirs was and ours had a tough night,” said Tigers manager Jim Leyland.

Detroit hasn’t won in Cleveland since May 8 of last season. Verlander was the winning pitcher in that one and he will once again be on the hill tonight. However, he has lost his last two starts at Progressive Field and is 4-8 with a 6.31 ERA in 13 career starts in Cleveland.

The hard-throwing right-hander, though, has been one of, if not the, best pitchers in the American League this season, posting a 16-5 mark to go along with a superb 2.30 ERA.

Verlander won his fourth consecutive start on Saturday in Kansas City, as he held the Royals to three runs and five hits in seven innings.

“He pitched a heckuva game,” Leyland said. “His pitches weren’t bad. He was drained, obviously, when he came off. He was spent. But he had to up it a little bit in that inning. He was spent, but he pitched great.”

Verlander carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning and tossed a two-hit shutout to beat the Indians back on June 14 and is 11-11 lifetime against them with a 4.82 ERA in 25 starts.

Cleveland will counter with righty Fausto Carmona, who is 5-11 with a 5.19 ERA. Carmona did not get a decision on Saturday in Texas, but pitched well, surrendering two earned runs in 6 1.3 innings of a 7-5 win.

In his three starts since a stint on the disabled list Carmona has gone 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA.

“I think for me, the key is to throw one inning, one pitch, and take my time with each pitch,” Carmona said. “I feel more confident on the mound.”

Carmona beat the Tigers the last time he faced them and is 8-4 with a 3.48 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) in this matchup.

Cleveland has won six of eight from the Tigers this season.