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Verlander sharp in Tigers' lopsided win

The SportsXchange

TORONTO - The Detroit Tigers were without their hitting star Miguel Cabrera and their regular second baseman Omar Infante on Thursday.

They did not need them.

Justin Verlander held the Toronto Blue Jays to three hits over seven shutout innings in an 11-1 victory over the Jays as the Tigers won their third game in a row.

Austin Jackson had four hits and three RBIs, two coming on his fifth homer of the season, to lead the Tigers, who outhit the Blue Jays 16-6. Torii Hunter also had three RBIs, while Prince Fielder and Andy Dirks each had two RBIs.

Verlander (9-5) won for the first time since June 7 before a crowd of 35,978 at Rogers Centre as the Tigers (46-38) took the final three games of the four-game series with the Blue Jays (41-44) after dropping the opener on Monday.

Verlander struck out five and walked two before being replaced by left-hander Phil Coke in the eighth.

"I feel like I turned a corner a couple of bullpen sessions ago," Verlander said. "And me and Jeff (pitching coach Jones) identified something that was wrong with my mechanics. I'm just continuing to try and get comfortable with that. Obviously when you try to change something mechanically, there's a bit of an adjustment period until you ingrain that in your muscle memory and it feels completely natural."

"He was just in command all the way," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It looked like he had a good rhythm and a good tempo. He did very, very well."

"Verlander was just locked in, and when a guy's locked in, you don't play around," Hunter said. "That was an impressive outing for him. I definitely think he figured some things out."

Toronto right-hander Esmil Rogers (3-4) pitched five-plus innings and allowed 11 hits and seven runs, the most in any of his seven starts since being moved from the bullpen.

"We fell behind and we got hit pretty good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "And Verlander is not going to give you very much. Even when he's not on he's not going to give you very much. ... With Cabrera out of the lineup you kind of like to see that, but it didn't matter tonight."

The Tigers have won nine of their past 11 games against the Blue Jays dating to last season. The Tigers also have won eight of their past 12 games at Rogers Centre.

After equaling a franchise-best 11-game winning streak, the Blue Jays have lost three consecutive series, dropping eight of 11 games in the process.

Rogers did not get an out in the three-run sixth inning. He allowed singles by Ramon Santiago, Don Kelly and Jackson for one run before being replaced by Neil Wagner. The Tigers added runs on a sacrifice fly by Hunter and an infield single by Fielder to increase their lead to 7-0.

"Sometimes you come to the game when the game starts you know you're going to have a bad day," Rogers said. "During the bullpen I felt my sinker was not working too well today. They hit me a little bit, they got me a couple of times with my sinker."

"He was missing off the plate a lot," Gibbons said. "That put him in a little bit of a jam. You can see when he's good he's flipping his off-speed stuff, the good slider and an occasional curveball, some changeups. Lately the two-seam fastball has been a big pitch for him but tonight he couldn't keep it on the plate."

Kelly led off the eighth with a double, his third hit of the game, and Jackson followed with a home run to center on an 0-2 pitch as Detroit extended the lead to 9-0.

Casey Janssen allowed two runs in the ninth, walking Dirks with the bases loaded before left-hander Aaron Loup came in and allowed Hunter's second sacrifice fly of the game.

Pinch hitter Josh Thole and Maicer Izturis singled in the bottom of the ninth against left-hander Darin Downs to ruin the shutout.

The Tigers took control of the game early, scoring twice in the first. Jackson led off with a single and scored on a double by Dirks. Fielder singled with one out to make the score 2-0.

The Tigers added two runs in the third. Jackson singled, Dirks walked and Hunter doubled.

Dirks was out in a rundown between home and third on a comebacker to the mound by Victor Martinez. But Jhonny Peralta doubled with two out to increase the lead to 4-0.

"A lot of times it's not who you're playing, it's when you're playing them," Leyland said of the Blue Jays. "They didn't have (Edwin) Encarnacion for most of the series, Melky Cabrera is on the DL and banged up a little bit. I'm very impressed with their bullpen, they keep bringing really good arms out of the bullpen. I look for them to have a big second half. "

NOTES: The Tigers' Cabrera (stiff back) missed his first game of the season, and Infante (bruised shin) also did not play. Kelly started at third base and Santiago started at second base. Infante was injured on a slide by Toronto CF Colby Rasmus in the fourth inning on Wednesday. ... Encarnacion (hamstring) returned to the lineup for the first time since Sunday. ... The Tigers travel to Cleveland for a four-game series against the Indians starting Friday when they send out RHP Rick Porcello (4-6, 5.21 ERA) against RHP Justin Masterson (10-6, 3.48 ERA). ... The Blue Jays are home to the Minnesota Twins for three games with LHP Mark Buehrle (4-5, 4.81 ERA) starting Friday's opener against RHP Kevin Correia (6-5, 4.08 ERA).
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