Astros-Tigers Preview

The Associated Press

While the Houston Astros won't have to face the 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner during their visit to Detroit, they will have to go up against last year's recipient.

Max Scherzer tries to win a fourth consecutive start as the surging Tigers host the Astros in the first of four Monday night.

Detroit (17-9) returns home after closing a 6-1 road trip with five straight wins. The Tigers, who hit .313 during their trek, outscored Kansas City 26-8 during a three-game sweep over the weekend.

"We caught a team on fire," Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said.

Torii Hunter had three hits and three RBIs while Nick Castellanos and Alex Avila both homered in Sunday's 9-4 victory. Justin Verlander took a no-hitter into the sixth inning to win his fourth straight decision.

"There's 29 other managers that would like to be able to do that," manager Brad Ausmus said of starting Verlander and Scherzer on consecutive days.

Scherzer (3-1, 2.08 ERA) has posted a 1.42 ERA while striking out 26 in 19 innings during his winning streak. The right-hander beat the White Sox for the second straight outing Wednesday, scattering four hits over six scoreless innings in a 5-1 victory.

Scherzer struck out seven to become the first Tigers pitcher to record at least seven in each of his first six starts.

"He's always tough. You get some guys on, you get opportunities and that's when good pitchers really show their stuff. He did that today," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "We at least got him a high pitch count and he couldn't get eight or nine innings. But, he's just tough."

Scherzer went 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in two matchups against Houston last year. He threw eight innings of one-run ball in a 17-2 road victory May 4, then yielded five runs over seven innings in a 7-5 home defeat 11 days later.

The Astros counter with Jarred Cosart (1-2, 5.52), who has posted a 6.58 ERA over a five-start winless stretch since beating the Yankees 3-1 in his season debut April 2. However, the right-hander has allowed two runs in each of his last two outings spanning 12 2-3 innings.

Cosart threw six strong innings and was in line for the win Tuesday against Washington before the bullpen gave up two runs over the last two innings in the 4-3 loss.

"I've just been preaching efficiency with (pitching coach Brent) Strom, and trying to throw a lot more strikes and get ahead," Cosart told MLB's official website.

Cosart surely isn't looking forward to hitting the road, where he's posted a 7.71 ERA compared to a 3.71 mark at home.

Houston (10-21) is looking to get on track after suffering its fourth loss in five games, 8-7 to Seattle on Sunday. The Astros lost despite collecting 11 hits for the third straight contest and scoring at least five runs for the sixth time in eight games.

''We're really starting to swing the bats much better,'' manager Bo Porter said. ''The early struggles are behind them. I love the fact that there are a lot of deep counts, which lets me know that they're seeing the ball a lot better.''

Shortstop Jonathan Villar, who homered for the second consecutive day, is batting .400 with eight extra-base hits over the last nine games.

Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera is batting .386 with a homer and 12 RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak. He went 11 for 29 with three homers and eight RBIs as Detroit took six of seven from Houston last season.

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