Milwaukee (35-30) was on the losing end of Justin Verlander’s no-hitter Tuesday, and the Brewers weren’t having much more offensive success Wednesday until Bill Hall’s two-run homer in the eighth lifted them to a 3-2 win.
They earned the victory despite being forced to use reliever Carlos Villanueva as a spot starter. Scheduled starter Chris Capuano was a late scratch due to a strained left groin. Villanueva filled the role effectively, though, lasting five innings and limiting the Tigers to one run.
“It was a full-team win, a game where we had to scratch and claw,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said. “It’s big, especially after last night.”
The victory was just Milwaukee’s second in the last six games and 11th in the last 31. It also kept the team 5 1/2 games ahead of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central.
The Brewers have endured their worst struggles on the road. Despite Wednesday’s victory, Milwaukee has lost 12 of its last 16 road games, and hasn’t won a series away from home since taking two of three at Houston from April 27-29.
As the Brewers try for their first consecutive wins since beating the Florida Marlins at home on May 31 and June 1, they hand the ball to staff ace Ben Sheets (6-3, 3.21 ERA), who has been strong in his last three starts.
Sheets held the Texas Rangers scoreless over seven innings Saturday, although he did not receive a decision in a contest Milwaukee lost 4-3. He gave up five hits and struck out six, while extending his scoreless streak to 18 innings.
The right-hander needs four strikeouts to reach 1,000 for his career.
Sheets has not faced the Tigers (37-27) since his rookie season on June 9, 2001, when he allowed three runs on seven innings and did not record a decision.
Chad Durbin (5-2, 4.59) will take the mound as Detroit tries to close out its six-game homestand with a winning record.
Durbin pitched eight innings on Friday against the New York Mets, allowing three runs and six hits in a 3-0 defeat. The loss was the first in 11 starts for the right-hander.
“I made a couple mistakes to a good-hitting ballclub,” said Durbin, who is trying to hold on to his spot in the rotation once the injured Kenny Rogers returns. “Sometimes those pitches get popped up, and sometimes they get hit.”
Detroit, which fell a game behind the Cleveland Indians for the AL Central lead with Wednesday’s loss, opens a three-game series with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday to begin a nine-game road trip.
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