Baseball / Sports

Detroit Lions safety Glover Quin and University of Michigan basketball player Nik Stauskas talk as they prepare to throw out the ceremonial pitches before the Detroit Tigers baseball game against the Houston Astros in Detroit on Monday May 5, 2014. (Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Scherzer pitches 8 shutout innings for Tigers win

DETROIT -- It didn't seem fair, the way Tigers starter Max Scherzer was pitching at times against the Houston Astros.

Astros right-hander Jarred Cosart was able to duel Scherzer for six innings, before the Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the seventh.

The Tigers had scored at least eight runs in three consecutive wins at Kansas City over the weekend, but they didn't score a run against the Astros until Rajai Davis' RBI single brought home Nick Castellanos from third.

Victor Martinez added a solo home run in the eighth to extend his hitting streak to eight games. The Tigers went on to beat the Astros, 2-0, on Monday night at Comerica Park and increased their win streak to six games.

"Tonight, runs were at a premium, but we were able to scrape out two," said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus.

Scherzer gave up three hits and one walk over eight shutout innings and had nine strikeouts. He has struck out at least seven batters in each of his seven starts this season. Joe Nathan gave up one walk in the ninth to earn his sixth save.

Cosart allowed four hits, three walks, one run (unearned) over seven innings with three strikeouts for the Astros.

"Cosart threw the ball well. He kept us off balance, and I was matching him pitch for pitch," Scherzer said.

"They're a very aggressive team and sometimes you do have to mix in more offspeed early in the count. When I was doing that, I was able to come back with fastballs and keep them off balance. Stayed away from any damage, any doubles, and tried to make them beat me with singles. That's usually a good recipe for success when you also do a good job of striking them out and not walking them."

Castellanos led off the seventh by hitting a grounder to third but was safe on a fielding error by Astros first baseman Marc Krauss. Cosart followed by giving up his second walk of the night to Alex Avila. The runners advanced to second and third on Andrew Romine's sacrifice bunt before Davis slapped a ball through the hole into left.

"Obviously, that was a little bit of a turning point in the game," Romine said of the bunt. "That's my role, get bunts down. Get guys over. Big situation like that, it's huge to get somebody over. And then Rajai got the knock to get a guy in. That's Baseball 101."

Romine said Cosart was very deceptive.

The Astros threatened in the top of the eighth. Scherzer gave up a leadoff walk to Krauss and then a one-out single to Jonathan Villar. The Tigers were able to get out of the inning, though on a double play when Scherzer got Jose Altuve to strike out swinging on a changeup and Alex Avila made a quick throw to third to get Marwin Gonzalez attempting to steal.

"That was a huge play of the game, first and second with one out," Scherzer said. "Altuve's a great hitter. He always puts tough (at-bats) against me. He's a tough guy to strike out. Fortunately tonight, in that situation I was able to sequence him right and then make that 3-2 changeup work. Got a swing and miss out of it and caught them running, and Alex made a great throw. We got a huge out in that situation. They're threatening there in the eighth."

Scherzer faced the minimum nine batters over the first three innings and had five strikeouts. George Springer got a two-out single off Scherzer in the second inning but was then caught stealing.

Scherzer gave up a one out single to Dexter Fowler in the fourth, and Chris Carter was hit by a pitch with two outs. Scherzer got out of that inning unscathed, as Alex Presley grounded out to second.

Scherzer got Springer to strike out swinging in the fifth inning. That gave Scherzer seven strikeouts over 41/3 innings.

Scherzer said he's not concerned with how many strikeouts he has, only the number of zeros on the scoreboard:

"Strikeouts help that cause, but at the end of the day, it's all about the zeros."

(c)2014 Detroit Free Press

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Distributed by MCT Information Services

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