John Hicks cranked a leadoff home run in the ninth inning, and the visiting Detroit Tigers overcame former ace Justin Verlander’s two-hit complete game with a 2-1 win over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.
Hicks’ blast, his ninth on the season, enabled the Tigers to snap an eight-game losing skid against Houston and a four-game losing streak overall.
Verlander had pitched brilliantly, surrendering just one baserunner through eight innings before Hicks drilled a 1-0 fastball out to left field, snapping a 1-all tie with his 412-foot shot.
Detroit capitalized immediately after poor baserunning decision by Jose Altuve snuffed a scoring opportunity for Houston in the eighth.
With one out and Alex Bregman at the plate, Altuve attempted to go from first to third on a Bregman grounder to shortstop Jordy Mercer. Detroit first baseman Ronny Rodriguez fielded the Mercer throw cleanly and executed a toss to third baseman Dawel Lugo, who applied the tag on the sliding Altuve to complete the inning-ending double play.
The Astros had pulled even in the seventh inning when catcher Robinson Chirinos belted the first pitch of the frame out to left. His 14th homer, which came against Tigers left-hander Tyler Alexander, erased a 1-0 deficit.
But that was the lone blemish in an otherwise sterling combined effort by four Detroit hurlers, with left-hander Daniel Norris delivering three scoreless innings before handing the ball to Alexander, who allowed three hits and one walk with three strikeouts over four innings. Right-hander Buck Farmer (5-4) worked a scoreless eighth before Joe Jimenez closed out the victory thanks in part to more poor baserunning by the Astros.
Chirinos (4-for-4, three extra-base hits) attempted to stretch a two-out double to right-center into a triple, but Harold Castro and Gordon Beckham executed a perfect relay to Lugo, who again applied the tag to end the threat and the game.
Verlander (15-5) allowed two runs on two hits with 11 strikeouts. He extended his club record for double-digit strikeout games to seven starts but surrendered two solo homers, with Rodriguez smacking his ninth dinger with two outs in the fifth.
Verlander has been tagged with an American League-high 33 home runs this season.
—Field Level Media