DENVER (AP) — Justin Verlander struck out nine over six commanding innings and aided his own cause by driving in his first career run and the Detroit Tigers beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Wednesday.
Verlander (10-8) allowed one run and three hits. His only mistake was a curveball that Charlie Blackmon hit for a solo homer in the sixth. Verlander ignited the offense with an RBI single in the second.
Nicholas Castellanos added a solo homer and James McCann sealed the game with a three-run shot in the fifth to help Tigers take two of three from Colorado.
The Rockies finished August with a 12-15 record — their first losing month of the season. They saw their lead for the second NL wild card shrink to three games over Milwaukee.
Chad Bettis (0-2) struggled with his control in his fourth start since returning from treatment for testicular cancer. He allowed five runs in five innings.
Verlander once again tamed Coors Field in his second career start at the hitter’s park. He also tossed a four-hitter on June 19, 2011.
At the plate, Verlander took advantage of the field’s friendliness by lining a slider from Bettis that fell in front of Blackmon. Verlander entered the game 3 for 40 in his career with 20 strikeouts.
The breaking ball led to Bettis’ troubles all afternoon. Castellanos hit a curveball to left-center for his 19th homer of the season. McCann later hit a hanging slider from Bettis for a towering homer to left.
Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera wasn’t in the starting lineup for a second straight game with back tightness. He entered as a pinch-hitter in the eighth with the bases loaded and hit into a double play. … LHP Daniel Norris (left groin strain) and RHP Anibal Sanchez (left hamstring strain) are each scheduled to make rehab starts Thursday.
Rockies: Manager Bud Black remains hopeful that LHP Tyler Anderson (left knee) can help the Rockies’ playoff chase in September. Anderson will make a rehab start Thursday.
THIS & THAT
Tigers SS Jose Iglesias finished 3 for 3 with three singles and a walk. … Blackmon has 84 RBIs this season, tying him with Taylor Douthit (1930) for second-most in NL history among leadoff hitters. Blackmon remains four behind the mark set by Craig Biggio in 1998. … SS Trevor Story lined a two-out, run-scoring double in the ninth.
Tigers: After a day off, Tigers have four games against Cleveland, including a doubleheader on Friday. LHP Matthew Boyd (5-8, 6.32 ERA) throws the opening game.
Rockies: Begin a pivotal three-game series against Arizona on Friday. LHP Kyle Freeland (11-8, 3.81) goes for the Rockies, while the Diamondbacks throw RHP Taijuan Walker (7-7, 3.55). “It’s a good group,” Black said of the Diamondbacks. “But you know what? They’re saying the same thing about us.”