(Sports Network) – Lefty David Price can begin another win streak for the host Tampa Bay Rays tonight when they entertain the American League Central Division-leading Detroit Tigers in the second game of a four-game set at Tropicana Field.
The Tigers stretched their Central lead to 5 1/2 games over both Cleveland and Chicago and ended the Rays’ five-game win streak Monday night, as Alex Avila’s two-run homer backed seven strong innings by Justin Verlander in a 5-2 win.
Verlander (19-5) allowed one run on three hits and three walks while fanning eight in the right-hander’s seventh consecutive victory. He also tied his career-high in wins with his major league-leading 19th victory.
Don Kelly added a solo shot in Detroit’s fourth straight win. The Tigers lead both the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians by 5 1/2 games.
Jeff Niemann (8-5) gave up four runs on six hits and three walks in 7 1/3 innings. He had won his previous seven decisions prior to the loss, his first since May 4 against Toronto.
Matt Joyce and Evan Longoria went deep for the Rays.
Price, who’ll turn 26 Friday, has won two straight decisions in three starts since dropping a 3-1 verdict to Toronto on Aug. 2.
He won road games at New York and Boston to improve to 11-10 on the season while allowing a combined nine hits and one run in 16 innings against the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Nashville native is 3-0 in five career meetings with the Tigers, having given up just five runs and struck out 25 batters in 21 1/3 innings.
Tampa Bay is 4-6 in his last 10 starts.
Veteran righty Brad Penny makes the 313th appearance of his big-league career for Detroit and aims for a second straight win.
The 33-year-old Oklahoman is 2-4 in seven meetings with the Rays with a 5.45 earned run average and 25 strikeouts in 38 innings.
He beat Baltimore, 5-4, on Aug. 12 for his last decision, the 116th win of his career against 97 losses.
Detroit is 4-6 in his last 10 starts.