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Tigers complete sweep in Baltimore

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Detroit left fielder Rajai Davis is not known for his home runs. He entered this season with 27 in 821 Major League games, but his solo homer in the sixth inning -- his third of season -- gave the Tigers some breathing room in a 7-5 victory on Wednesday over the Baltimore Orioles and a sweep of the three-game set.

The Tigers led 6-0 before the Orioles scored five times in the fifth to make it 6-5. Davis then homered with two outs in the sixth against right-hander Miguel Gonzalez to give Detroit a 7-5 lead.

"Obviously, a two-run lead is better than one," said Davis, who had a sacrifice fly earlier in the game as the leadoff hitter. "We had some good pitching and good clutch hitting" in the series sweep.

Detroit starter Justin Verlander (5-2) is now 7-0 lifetime in Baltimore even though he gave up five runs and three walks in six innings.

"Justin pitched well. Justin never loses focus," said Detroit manager Brad Ausmus, when asked if Verlander did exactly that when he gave up five runs in the fifth.

The Tigers have won eight road games in a row and finished the year 5-1 against Baltimore, which has lost four straight. Both teams began the day first in their respective divisions.

"Nobody ever wants to get swept," said Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger, who was 1-for-4. "The sooner we move forward the better off we are going to be. We have to get better."

While Verlander made his 275th career start, Baltimore's Kevin Gausman -- just called up from Triple-A Norfolk -- made his first big league appearance of the season and sixth career start. He allowed five runs in four innings before giving way to reliever Miguel Gonzalez, who was bumped to the bullpen to open a spot for Gausman (0-1).

"I did some good things early on. The bottom half of the lineup is what got me," Gausman said.

Orioles manager Buck Showalter did not commit to keeping Gausman in the rotation.

"We will talk about it on the plane," said Showalter, whose team plays Thursday in Kansas City.

Baltimore left the bases loaded in the eighth against Joba Chamberlain and then closer Joe Nathan shut the door in the ninth for his 10th save, retiring designated hitter Nelson Cruz on a grounder for the final out with a runner on base.

Detroit staked Verlander to a 6-0 lead in the fifth on an RBI single by third baseman Don Kelly.

The Tigers had scored three runs in the fourth to make it 5-0 as catcher Bryan Holaday (two hits) had an RBI single, shortstop Danny Worth (two hits) drove in a run with a bunt single and Davis hit a sacrifice fly.

"Holaday and Worth came up with big RBI," Ausmus said of his bottom two hitters. "To get that type of production is a plus. They are part of the team. They have to get in there."

The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-out, bases loaded single by first baseman Miguel Cabrera.

The Orioles got on the board in the fifth with five runs, the first two coming on RBI singles by center fielder Adam Jones (three hits) and first baseman Chris Davis to make it 6-2. Cruz then launched a three-run homer to left off Verlander to make it 6-5.

Home plate umpire John Tumpane had warned both benches after Verlander threw a pitch behind Cruz with one out in the fourth. Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, who did not play, exchanged words with Baltimore pitcher Bud Norris after he was hit by a pitch in Monday's game.

"We knew (a purpose pitch) was going to come at some point in the series," Clevenger said. "It woke us up a little bit."

Ausmus said, "As skilled as pitchers are at this level, the ball gets away from pitchers."

NOTES: Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera now has 53 RBIs in 51 career games against the Orioles. ... Detroit rookie manager Brad Ausmus said being a former catcher is a plus. "It gives you a pretty good feel for what the players are thinking," said Ausmus, whose team had the best record in the majors before Wednesday's games. ... Baltimore begins a series on Thursday at Kansas City and the scheduled starters are Orioles LHP Wei-Yin Chen (4-2, 3.95 ERA) against Royals RHP Yordano Ventura (2-2, 2.34). ... The Tigers begin a series on Friday at Boston and RHP Max Scherzer (5-1, 2.04) is slated to go for Detroit against Red Sox LHP Jon Lester (4-4, 2.75). ... Detroit RHP Joe Nathan posted his 350th career save on Tuesday, then got No. 351 on Wednesday.

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