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MLB pennant races: Tigers keep pace, Justin Verlander survives injury scare

Justin Verlander

JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/MCT Tigers trainer Kevin Rand checks on ace Justin Verlander, who wrenched his shoulder lunging for a throw in the fifth inning. Verlander stayed in the game and went eight for the win.

The potential tying run was on third with one out in the fifth inning, and Justin Verlander was suddenly in pain. A routine throw back to the pitcher had gone astray, and the Detroit ace hurt his non-throwing shoulder lunging to stop it.

It looked like the kind of freakish bad break the Tigers could ill afford.

“With a guy on third and the ball coming back on the ground, I’ve got to try to stop it,” Verlander said. “So I went down to get it, and my body just wasn’t prepared for that. All my weight landed on my left arm, and just kind of jarred my shoulder a little bit. I felt it for a little bit and then it went away.”

Verlander was able to stay in the game, and not only did he pitch out of that jam, but he went eight innings to help Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals 6-2 on Monday night and remain one game behind the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox.

The Tigers were swept in a doubleheader by Minnesota on Sunday but steadied themselves behind their top pitcher. Verlander (16-8) had little trouble with the Royals, who knocked him around for eight runs and 12 hits last month.

The right-hander allowed two runs and nine hits this time, striking out eight without a walk. Jose Valverde pitched the ninth.

Verlander threw 114 pitches, 89 for strikes.

“He just threw strike after strike after strike. There’s not much you can do when he’s throwing like that,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Luke Hochevar (8-15) yielded six runs — five earned — and 12 hits in 7 1/3 innings. Alex Gordon homered for Kansas City.

The Tigers play three more games at home against the Royals before finishing the regular season with a six-game trip to Minnesota and Kansas City.

Prince Fielder hit a solo homer for Detroit in the second, and Alex Avila added an RBI double later in the inning.

Miguel Cabrera singled to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

NATIONALS 12, BREWERS 2: This time, the “sun monster” helped Jayson Werth’s Washington Nationals and hurt the Milwaukee Brewers.

A day after the Nationals misplayed a pair of fly balls in the midday glare, Werth wound up with a two-out, two-run double when Brewers centre fielder Carlos Gomez lost a ball in the sun to spark a big fourth inning, and Washington beat Milwaukee to cut its magic number for winning the NL East to five.

The Nationals improved to a majors-best 93-60 and increased their division lead over Atlanta to five games with nine to play.

WHITE SOX 5, INDIANS 4: Adam Dunn homered twice, including a clutch three-run shot in the eighth inning, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Cleveland Indians to maintain their one-game lead in the AL Central.

Dunn drove an 0-2 pitch from Vinnie Pestano (3-3) over the wall in right-centre with runners on the corners and two out in the eighth, putting Chicago ahead 5-3. Kevin Youkilis kept the inning alive with an infield single before Dunn connected for his 41st homer of the season.

Dunn also went deep in the sixth as Chicago snapped a five-game losing streak and stayed in front of second-place Detroit.

CARDINALS 6, ASTROS 1: Lance Lynn pitched seven innings to earn his 17th win, rookie Pete Kozma hit a two-run homer and the St. Louis Cardinals strengthened their grip on a playoff spot.

Yadier Molina added a solo shot as the Cardinals moved 3 ½ games in front of Milwaukee and Los Angeles for the second NL wild card.

thestar.com – Sports

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