PHOENIX, Arizona - The Detroit Tigers looked like they might be coming back to the pack in the American League Central but came through the weekend with a comfortable lead intact. The Tigers will attempt to get on a roll when they begin a road trip with a three-game interleague set at the Arizona Diamondbacks that begins Monday. The Tigers started the weekend by dropping three in a row to the Cleveland Indians but salvaged the finale of the four-game set to maintain a 5 1/2-game division lead.
That advantage was set to slip to 3 1/2 contests if the Indians had completed a sweep, but Detroit got the starting pitching performance it needed from Drew Smyly and the bullpen had a rare good day in Sunday's 5-1 triumph. The Diamondbacks entered the All-Star break trying to stay out of the basement in the National League West but made some noise over the weekend with a sweep of the Chicago Cubs. Arizona has won seven of 10 overall and four of five at home.
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, FSN (Detroit, Arizona)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Tigers RH Justin Verlander (8-8, 4.88 ERA) vs. Diamondbacks LH Vidal Nuno (2-6, 5.10)
Verlander continues to show flashes of his former Cy Young Award-winning form but can't seem to take that quality stuff through an entire outing. The 31-year-old held Kansas City scoreless over six innings on July 13 before surrendering four runs in the seventh and ending up with the loss. Verlander won his lone career start against Arizona by striking out 14 and scattering four hits over eight scoreless frames.
Nuno was acquired in a trade from the New York Yankees earlier this month and pitched seven scoreless innings in his debut with Arizona before struggling in his second start. The California native surrendered a grand slam to Buster Posey at San Francisco on July 13 and was saddled with the loss. Nuno never got an opportunity to face Detroit while pitching for the Yankees.
1. Tigers CF Austin Jackson has recorded multiple hits in six of his last seven games to lift his batting average to .264.
2. Arizona OF Cody Ross (left calf) sat out Sunday's contest and is day-to-day.
3. Detroit All-Star 1B Miguel Cabrera notched multiple strikeouts in back-to-back games for the first time this season on Saturday and Sunday.
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