Cardinals-Tigers Preview

The Associated Press

As dominant as Justin Verlander has been against the NL, his starts against the St. Louis Cardinals have been downright forgettable.

The Detroit Tigers ace might not have much room for error given the way Lance Lynn is pitching for the Cardinals.

Verlander will try to stay unbeaten at home in interleague play Tuesday night when the reigning AL MVP squares off against Lynn and the Cardinals.

Over his past six outings, Verlander (6-4, 2.66 ERA) has lost three times - all to AL teams - but he's gone 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in three interleague starts.

The Tigers (32-34) have won all 11 regular-season home games he's pitched versus the NL as he's gone 10-0 with a 1.73 ERA.

However, his one playoff outing against an NL team in Detroit came at the 2006 World Series versus St. Louis, getting ripped for seven runs in five innings of a 7-2 loss in Game 1. Verlander also went on to lose the series-deciding Game 5.

Including those outings, he's 2-3 with a 5.59 ERA in five starts against the Cardinals. Against the rest of the NL, Verlander is 17-1 with a 2.37 ERA.

He had gone winless since throwing a one-hitter against Pittsburgh on May 18 until beating the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, giving up two runs and striking out eight in eight innings of a 5-3 victory.

"He kind of stays on you the whole time," Cubs center fielder Tony Campana said. "He mixes his pitches so well and that's why he's so good."

While Lynn (10-2, 2.42) doesn't have the experience or accolades that Verlander does, he's quickly making a name for himself.

Lynn joins the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey as the only pitchers to have reached double digits in victories. He's allowed two earned runs or fewer in 11 of his 13 starts.

The right-hander posted a second straight double-figure strikeout game Wednesday, setting a career high with 12 as he gave up three hits in 7 1-3 innings of a 1-0 win over the Chicago White Sox.

"That kid's impressive," said Jake Peavy, who started for the White Sox. "That ball had a lot of life out of his hand. You don't go 10-2 with those numbers by accident."

Lynn takes the mound after the Cardinals (34-33) lost two of three to Kansas City over the weekend to finish a 4-5 homestand. They scored more than three runs twice during that stretch.

St. Louis went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position Sunday in a 5-3, 15-inning loss to the Royals.

"This is as tough as they have been," manager Mike Matheny said. "I don't know any other way to say it."

Carlos Beltran went 1 for 6 with two strikeouts, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. He was 17 for 34 with four homers during the first nine games.

While the Cardinals open a nine-game road trip in an offensive slump, the Tigers are riding their best stretch since opening the season 9-3. They've won three straight series, taking two of three in each.

"It's nice to win three series, but we've got to keep it going," Max Scherzer told the Tigers' official website after striking out 12 in Sunday's 5-0 victory over Colorado. "We've got to keep churning out the series wins."

Leadoff man Austin Jackson has provided a spark since coming off the disabled list just over a week ago, hitting .333 with 10 RBIs in his last seven games.

"He kind of gets everything started for us," catcher Alex Avila said. "It's not a surprise to us that he's that important to our team."

Since losing to the Cardinals in the World Series, Detroit has won six of nine against St. Louis.

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