HOUSTON -- Detroit ace right-hander Justin Verlander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Tigers jumped to a sizable early lead for a second consecutive game, completing a four-game sweep of the Houston Astros with a 9-0 victory on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.
Astros first baseman Carlos Pena laced a 3-2 pitch over the defensive shift and into right field with one out in the seventh to snuff the only lingering suspense. Verlander (4-2) owns a pair of no-hitters and, while his pitch count was elevated throughout, he appeared primed for his third career no-hitter before Pena turned on a 96 mile-per-hour fastball.
Verlander was far from perfect, issuing walks in the first and fourth innings before Marwin Gonzalez reached on a Prince Fielder error to open the sixth. He required 86 pitches to complete five innings, but after the Tigers (19-11) walloped Astros right-hander Philip Humber (0-7), the only real drama was watching Verlander flirt with history yet again.
Verlander surrendered two hits with nine strikeouts over seven innings.
After scoring six runs over their first two at-bats against Houston right-hander Lucas Harrell Saturday night, the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate in a five-run second inning after Fielder staked Detroit to a 2-0 lead with his two-run homer to right field in the top of the first inning.
Fielder added a two-run single in the second, following an RBI single from Andy Dirks and a two-run home run from Brayan Pena earlier that frame. Humber allowed three home runs among his eight hits, with the Tigers scoring eight runs and drawing three walks over his four innings.
Dirks finished 4-for-4 with a leadoff homer in the fourth and a walk in the sixth. He scored following each of his first three plate appearances. Second baseman Omar Infante hit the Tigers' fourth homer in the eighth.
The Astros (8-24) have dropped six consecutive games and 10 of 11.
NOTES: Humber defeated the Tigers in his final spring training start, allowing four hits and two walks with five strikeouts over six scoreless innings on March 28. ... Houston wore 'Los Astros' jerseys in recognition of Cinco de Mayo. ... Astros second baseman Jose Altuve was absent from the starting lineup for the first time this season. He entered Sunday tied for second in the majors with 43 hits (trailing Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera, who has 47) and tied for second among second basemen with a .333 average. His 33 double plays turned lead all second basemen. ... Detroit swept a four-game road series for the first time since sweeping the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in 2006.