DETROIT -- The Tigers handed the Astros their first losing streak since mid-June and their first series loss on the road since before that. Justin Upton's two-run double and grand slam supported six scoreless innings from Justin Verlander as Detroit took the rubber match of the three-game set with a
DETROIT -- The Tigers handed the Astros their first losing streak since mid-June and their first series loss on the road since before that. Justin Upton's two-run double and grand slam supported six scoreless innings from Justin Verlander as Detroit took the rubber match of the three-game set with a 13-1 win Sunday at Comerica Park.
The Tigers became the first team to win back-to-back games from the Astros since the Rangers on June 12-13. Houston lost a road series for the first time since dropping two of three at Cleveland from April 25-27.
"We competed our tails off for three days," Upton said. "Regardless of what our record is, these guys come to compete every day. Early on [in the season], we just didn't win enough games. We're in the situation we're in, and it's nobody's fault but ours, but we can hang our hat on the fact that we came to compete every day."
Though Astros starter Lance McCullers (7-3) worked out of early trouble, the Tigers eventually wore him down before feasting on Houston's bullpen. Jose Cabrera's second drive to the left-field fence drove in Upton as part of a two-run fifth inning before Upton's double off the high wall in right-center against Joe Musgrove helped the Tigers pull away with a three-run sixth.
"I don't care about my numbers, personally," said McCullers, who has a 9.64 ERA in his past four starts. "I think I've gone out there the past couple times and put the team in a bad spot with the way I've thrown, so that's more frustrating."
An inning later, Upton lifted an opposite-field shot off Tony Sipp for his second grand slam of the season to put Detroit into double digits, capping a five-run frame. James McCann added a two-run homer off Tyler White, who moved from first base to pitch the eighth for Houston.
"Honestly, it was nice to see the bats come alive and score a bunch of runs," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We have some guys who are below their norms in terms of production."
Verlander (6-7), starting the day before the non-waiver Trade Deadline with increasing chances of staying in Detroit, had his own early trouble with Houston's formidable lineup. He stranded eight Astros over the first four innings before retiring his final seven batters, earning his first win since June 27.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Verlander strands bases loaded: Unlike Verlander's last meeting with the Astros in May in Houston, where a three-homer inning left him with a no-decision, his potential big inning Sunday came with two walks and a single in the second, loading the bases with two outs. With American League MVP Award candidate Jose Altuve on deck, Verlander worked ahead of rookie Derek Fisher with fastballs before getting him to ground out on a curveball, ending Houston's best threat.
"We had [Verlander] a couple different innings where we could've broke things through and put a little bit of pressure on him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "Couldn't come up with a big hit, which is what you need to do against the better pitchers when you get some opportunities."
Romine's running catch: The Astros didn't have much hard contact off Verlander, let alone any extra-base hits, but Brian McCann sent right fielder Andrew Romine racing to the corner on a drive to lead off the sixth. Romine ran down the ball for a lunging catch before crashing into the fence, preventing the Astros from getting a rally started.
"I was trying to just throw it normal, and then the first two guys hit it pretty good. So I just threw one really slow and then a little bit harder, and then I'd either slow it back down or throw it a bit harder than that." -- White, on his pitching strategy after Alex Avila singled and McCann homered to begin the 8th More >
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The Astros were held without a double for the first time since May 20, ending a 60-game streak that ranks as the second longest in the Majors since 1913.
Cabrera's two hits Sunday brought his career total to 2,605, pushing him into a tie with Rabbit Maranville and Tim Raines, one of baseball's newest Hall of Famers, for 79th on the all-time Major League list.
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Astros: Having wrapped up their nine-game road trip, the Astros return home to Minute Maid Park to face the Rays in a four-game series that begins Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT with Charlie Morton on the mound. Morton (8-4, 3.83 ERA) lost to Tampa Bay in April, allowing five runs in five innings.
Tigers: Just after Monday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline passes, the Tigers will open a three-city, nine-game road trip in the Bronx with a 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Yankees. Michael Fulmer (10-8, 3.35 ERA) gets the start opposite Luis Severino in a battle of stingy young starters.
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Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.
Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Astros on Sunday.