Justin Verlander dominates former team as Houston Astros rout Detroit Tigers 9-3

DETROIT (AP) — Justin Verlander dominated his former team and Kyle Tucker homered as the Houston Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 9-3 on Sunday at Comerica Park.

Verlander (2-1) pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits while striking out eight. He now has 3,365 career strikeouts, two behind former teammate and friendly rival Max Scherzer for 11th on the all-time list and six behind Greg Maddux for 10th.

“Max isn't done — he's supposed to be back soon and it was fun battling back and forth with him last year — but that's pretty cool,” Verlander said. “This game has been around so long, and any time you can get into the top 10 ... jeez. That would be one of those things where I really try to take a beat and appreciate it.”

Mauricio Dubón had four hits for Houston and Jake Meyers went 3 for 3 with three RBIs despite not entering the game until the seventh inning.

“It is nice to be able to give (Jose) Altuve a day off and see Dubón come in and do that,” Astros manager Joe Espada said. “When he stays in the zone and swings at the pitches he can handle, he's a pretty good hitter.”

Jack Flaherty (0-3) took the loss, allowing three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. Detroit relievers allowed six runs on 11 hits in the final 2 1/3 innings.

“Jack did a good job of holding them down,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “They put a lot of pressure on him with baserunners and he kept making pitches. He was just unfortunate the offense ran into Verlander and couldn't help him.”

Verlander retired the first 14 Tigers before Colt Keith beat out a slow dribbler to short, and he was promptly thrown out trying to steal second.

“He's on his way to Cooperstown for a reason,” said Spencer Torkelson, who went 0 for 3 against Verlander with two strikeouts. “I thought we had a good plan — capitalize on mistakes — and we realized early there weren't going to be many mistakes to capitalize on.”

Houston had baserunners in the first four innings, but Detroit turned three double plays. After Dubón singled in the sixth off Flaherty, though, Tucker hit his 13th homer to make it 2-0.

With two out in the bottom of the inning, Verlander walked Carson Kelly and Riley Greene before hitting Mark Canha. Matt Vierling lined out to left on the next pitch.

Joey Wentz replaced Flaherty with two outs in the seventh and a runner on first. After Joey Loperfido singled, Meyers and Dubón made it 4-0 with RBI singles. Wentz walked Tucker to load the bases, but Alex Lange got Jeremy Peña to fly out.

Lange allowed four runs while only getting one out in the eighth.

Verlander finished with a perfect seventh. He is now 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA in seven starts against Detroit, having struck out 62 batters in 46 innings.

“He demonstrated all the arts of pitching,” Hinch said.

The Tigers broke the shutout in the ninth when Akil Baddoo tripled and scored on a balk before Spencer Torkelson hit his first home run of the season.

UP NEXT

Astros: Head home to start a four-game series with the Oakland Athletics. RHP Spencer Arrighetti (0-4, 8.44) is scheduled to start Monday against Oakland RHP Ross Stripling (1-6, 5.14).

Tigers: Remain home for three games with the Miami Marlins. RHP Matt Manning (0-1, 4.24) is expected to be called up from Triple-A Toledo to start Monday for Detroit.

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