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Indians Need A Spark; Fausto Carmona Could Provide One With A Win Wednesday In Detroit

(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers try put some distance between themselves and the Cleveland Indians this evening when the American League Central rivals continue a three-game set at Comerica Park.

The Tigers took over sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since last July behind a spectacular effort from Justin Verlander in Tuesday's opener, as the right-hander had a no-hitter going through 7 1/3 innings until Orlando Cabrera laced a single into center field to break it up.

Verlander, who pitched the second no-no of his career last month, settled for his fifth career shutout instead, striking out 12 while giving up just two hits in a 4-0 win.

"It's early in the season, but we've got to get (in first place) at some point," Verlander said. "We've got the talent. We should win a lot of ballgames."

Carlos Santana blooped a single into left field in the ninth for the second hit.

Unbeaten since April 27, the week before he no-hit the Blue Jays, Verlander (8-3) won his fifth straight decision and improved to 4-0 in his last four starts.

He threw 82 of his 117 pitches for strikes, reaching the upper 90s with his fastball and showing great command of his changeup and breaking ball.

"I thought it was a possibility that he'd throw a no-hitter," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I'm on record as saying he's got the best stuff of any pitcher I've ever had."

Miguel Cabrera, Andy Dirks and Alex Avila each had an RBI to help Detroit win for the 12th time in its last 16 games.

Cleveland, meanwhile, continues to struggle, losing for the 15th time in its last 20. The Indians have only seven hits in their last 75 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and their last two wins were both 1-0 victories.

"Every game is important, it doesn't matter when it is, but we do realize it's only June," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "Whether we win or lose this series, I don't think it's going to change the outcome of the Tigers or us overall. If this series had been in September, with the same situation, then it would be bigger, but we understand."

Hoping to reverse their fortunes this evening the Indians turn to right-hander Fausto Carmona, who has been brutal of late, posting an 0-5 mark with an 8.49 ERA (33 earned runs/35 innings) over his past six starts. His latest setback came on Friday against the New York Yankees, who ripped him for six runs and eight hits in just four innings, dropping him to 3-8 overall on the year to go along with a 5.71 ERA.

"Fausto had a rough day," Acta said. "He really struggled with his control from the get-go and put us behind the eight ball. And we continue to struggle at the plate."

Carmona has had success against the Tigers, though, and is 7-4 against them with a 3.47 ERA in 17 games, 14 of which have been starts.

Detroit will counter with veteran right-hander Brad Penny, who has lost two of his last three decisions. Penny pitched well on Friday against Seattle, but was charged with the loss nonetheless, allowing three runs and eight hits in seven innings of the 3-2 loss.

Penny was destroyed in his only other appearance against the Indians to the tune of seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings. Amazingly, though, he escaped without a decision in that one.

In four starts against the AL Central this season Penny is 3-0.

Cleveland swept a three-game set from the Tigers earlier in the season at Progressive Field and has won six of seven in the series.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.