BALTIMORE (AP) — This time, Baltimore had plenty of success against Justin Verlander.
Unfortunately for the Orioles, the Detroit Tigers got to their starting pitcher, too.
Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer off Verlander in Baltimore’s five-run fifth inning, but Rajai Davis went deep to lead Detroit to a 7-5 victory on Wednesday and a three-game sweep of the slumping Orioles.
“It’s hard to stay consistent,” Cruz said. “It’s a long season. But like I said, we’re not going to focus on what happened in bad situations. We’re going to focus on whatever we did good on a daily basis and that can get you going through the season.”
Adam Jones went 3 for 5 while extending his hitting streak to nine games, but Baltimore still dropped its fourth consecutive game, matching its longest losing streak of the season.
Kevin Gausman (0-1) lasted just four innings in his first start for the Orioles since June 13, 2013. The top prospect allowed five runs and six hits with two strikeouts, two walks and a wild pitch.
The Tigers have won 12 of 15, including eight straight road games.
Verlander (5-2) allowed a season-high five runs in six innings while improving to 7-0 in eight career starts at Camden Yards. The right-hander gave up six hits, struck out four and walked three.
It was the first time in 15 games a Detroit starter allowed more than three runs.
“Winning as a team is all that matters,” Verlander said. “Obviously, today was a great team effort. Our boys put up a bunch of runs.”
Davis hit his third home run and had two RBIs for the Tigers.
Staked to a 6-0 lead, Verlander was cruising until the fifth. He gave up consecutive RBI singles to Jones and Chris Davis before Cruz hit a drive to left for his 11th homer.
“In the American League, no lead seems to be safe,” Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. “We’ve had a number of games where we had a six- or seven-run lead and the other team scrapes their way back into the game. It’s never comfortable. They have some very good players over there. To come away with a sweep against a team like the Orioles is a huge bonus.”
Davis gave Detroit some breathing room with his solo shot in the sixth.
Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 10th save. He hasn’t allowed a run in six straight appearances.
Detroit opened a 2-0 lead in the third on Miguel Cabrera’s two-out, two-run single. He is batting .391 with 53 RBIs in 51 career games against Baltimore.
“It’s never fun to get swept,” Orioles catcher Steve Clevenger said. “But it’s going to happen. The sooner we move forward, the better off we are going to be. We got to get better. We got to get better as a ballclub.”
The Tigers extended the lead to 5-0 in the fourth with some aggressive baserunning and timely hitting. After a double steal, Bryan Holiday had an RBI single. Danny Worth followed with a drag bunt up the first-base line for another run. Davis then hit a long sacrifice fly to center.
“Obviously, I wasn’t too thrilled with it,” Gausman said about his outing. “I thought I did some good things early on, keeping down in the count. As the game progressed, my fastball started going up in the zone. Really, the bottom half of the lineup is what kind of really got me today.”
Verlander threw behind Cruz in the fourth, prompting plate umpire John Tumpane to issue a warning to both benches. On Monday, Orioles starter Bud Norris plunked Torii Hunter in the rib cage after allowing a go-ahead, two-run homer to Ian Kinsler in the eighth, which caused both dugouts to empty, though no punches were thrown.
As skilled as pitchers are at this level, balls get away,” Ausmus said. “Just like I am sure the ball got away from Bud Norris.”
NOTES: Baltimore RHP Chris Tillman has been bothered by a sore groin but expects to make his scheduled start Friday after a bullpen session. … Orioles manager Buck Showalter will miss Saturday’s game in Kansas City to attend his daughter’s graduation at SMU. Bench coach John Russell will fill in. … Tigers RHP Luke Putkonen (right elbow inflammation) pitched two innings Tuesday in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo. He allowed four runs and five hits and will likely make one more rehab outing. … Tigers RHP Anibal Sanchez (right middle finger laceration) is scheduled to come off the disabled list and start Sunday night’s game at Boston. … Tigers RHP Rick Porcello was scheduled to pitch a bullpen session Wednesday after experiencing tightness in his side in Monday’s 4-1 win over the Orioles.
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