Tigers 5, Mets 2

By Justin Verlander’s lofty standards, this was a so-so

performance.

It was more than enough to boost a battered Detroit pitching

staff.

Verlander pitched seven solid innings Thursday to lead the

Tigers to a 5-2 win over the big-hitting New York Mets. Detroit had

allowed 30 runs in the first two games of the series, but Verlander

finished a terrific June by holding New York at bay, preventing a

sweep.

”Each day is a new day in baseball, and that’s the beautiful

thing about this. They go out and score however many runs in two

days with a bunch of hits, but you turn the page,” Verlander said.

”You’ve got to know as a starting pitcher, no matter what they’ve

done before, if you make your pitches and execute, good pitching

beats good hitting.”

The Mets had scored a team-record 52 runs in their previous four

games. Verlander (11-3) held them to one run and seven hits. He

finished June with a 6-0 record and a 0.92 ERA, and tied CC

Sabathia for the major league lead in wins this season.

Verlander has won his last seven starts, allowing two or fewer

runs in each.

”He’s awesome,” Mets star Jose Reyes said. ”We had him in

trouble a couple times, but he always makes a pitch to get out of

it. That’s why he is one of the best in the game.”

Daniel Murphy and Carlos Beltran homered for New York’s only

runs. Andy Dirks hit a solo shot for the Tigers.

Mike Pelfrey (4-7) allowed four earned runs in 4 2-3 innings for

the Mets, who start a three-game home series against the Yankees on

Friday night.

Detroit needed a good start from Verlander after losing 16-9 the

previous night and 14-3 on Tuesday. Every Tiger that pitched

Wednesday gave up at least one run – except utilityman Don Kelly,

who took the mound during the ninth that night in an amusing

scene.

Verlander was up to the task. He threw 120 pitches, striking out

six and walking two. It wasn’t his most dominating effort, but it

came at an important time.

”I didn’t pitch well, I battled well,” Verlander said.

”That’s something I pride myself on. I’ve been on a pretty good

run here, had pretty doggone good stuff for a period of time here.

You’ve got to know that that’s not going to last an entire

season.”

About the only thing Verlander didn’t do was get Reyes out. The

splendid shortstop reached base in all three plate appearances

against the Detroit ace, but didn’t come around to score.

Reyes led off the game with a double, and the Mets seemed ready

to break loose once again. But Jason Pridie followed by lining into

a double play.

Verlander said the Tigers actually caught a break when they let

Reyes stretch his bloop hit into a double because second baseman

Ramon Santiago stayed in position to catch Pridie’s hit.

”We kind of got lucky there,” Verlander said. ”If he’s on

first base – that’s assuming he hasn’t stolen second base yet –

we’re playing double-play depth. That ball off the end of the bat

is a base hit.”

With the Mets down 5-1, Lucas Duda led off the seventh with a

triple, but he was thrown out by left fielder Brennan Boesch when

he tagged up and tried to score on a fly ball. Mets manager Terry

Collins came out to argue, but to no avail.

”The way he’s pitching right now, it’s unbelievable,” Dirks

said. ”We just try to play good defense behind him and put up some

runs and win the ballgame.”

Joaquin Benoit relieved Verlander and allowed Beltran’s 12th

homer of the season. The Mets hit no homers in their 16-run

outburst Wednesday.

Jose Valverde finished for his 19th save.

Pelfrey gave up eight hits and struck out three. He tied a

career high with five walks, all in the first three innings.

Detroit left the bases loaded in the first, but Austin Jackson hit

an RBI single for the Tigers in the second to make it 1-all after

Murphy homered in the top half.

The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the third, and Alex

Avila hit a sacrifice fly. Santiago then hit an RBI single, and

center fielder Angel Pagan’s throw to third was wild for an error,

allowing another run to come home.

Dirks homered in the fifth to make it 5-1.

New York right-hander Manny Acosta left in the eighth with a

hyperextended wrist on his throwing arm after making an acrobatic

play to field a bunt by Santiago.

NOTES: Dirks, a rookie, has six homers in 92 at-bats. … Reyes’

double was his 213th, passing Edgardo Alfonzo for fourth place on

the franchise’s career list.