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Justin Verlander dominates old team as Houston Astros beat Detroit Tigers 9-3

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

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

“Max isn’t finished – he’s supposed to come back soon and it was fun fighting with him last year – but it’s pretty cool,” Verlander said. “This game has been around for so long, and any time you can get into the top 10… damn. It would be one of those things where I really try to get into a rhythm and enjoy 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’s 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 throws the pitches he can handle, he’s a very 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 over the final 2 1/3 innings.

“Jack did a good job holding them off,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “They put a lot of pressure on him with the baserunners and he kept making throws. It was just unfortunate that the offense ran into Verlander and couldn’t help him.

Verlander retired the Tigers’ first 14 before Colt Keith beat a slow dribbler, and he was quickly 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 on that 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 against Flaherty, Tucker hit his 13th home run to make it 2-0.

With two outs 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 field.

Joey Wentz replaced Flaherty with two outs in the seventh and a runner on in the 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 robbed Jeremy Peña.

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

Verlander finished with a perfect seventh place. 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 groundout before Spencer Torkelson hit his first home run of the season.

FOLLOWING

Astros: Return home to begin 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: Stay home for three games with the Miami Marlins. RHP Matt Manning (0-1, 4.24 ERA) is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Toledo to start Monday for Detroit.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb