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Penny seeks to get on track for Tigers against O's

A rare poor outing by MVP candidate Justin Verlander field advantage in next week's American League Division Series.

Fighting for a spot on the playoff roster, Brad Penny will try to pitch Detroit to a split of its four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles this afternoon at Comerica Park.

Verlander took the hill on Saturday looking to become the majors' first 25- game winner since Bob Welch in 1990, but instead had a 12-start winning streak end after getting a no-decision in a 6-5 setback. Verlander allowed five runs over his first three innings, including homers to Matt Angle and Mark Reynolds, before settling down and tossing seven total frames.

Detroit took its ace off the hook by clawing back from a 5-0 deficit to tie the game in the eighth inning on Jhonny Peralta's RBI single, but Angle laid down a perfect suicide squeeze in the ninth inning to score Kyle Hudson for the winning run.

With the loss, the AL Central-champion Tigers fell one game behind the Rangers for the second best record in the American League after Texas beat Seattle, 7-3, on Saturday.

Baltimore, meanwhile, has won nine of its last 12 and five of nine over Detroit this season.

Penny aims to cool down the Orioles, but he has won just once in his last five starts and is coming off a loss in Kansas City on Tuesday. The 33-year-old righty was charged with seven runs on 10 hits, two homers and two walks over four innings, striking out just one.

"Tonight I didn't give us much of a chance to win," Penny said after falling to 10-11 on the season with a 5.31 earned run average.

Penny is 2-0 versus Baltimore over four career starts despite a 7.20 ERA. He allowed four runs in 5 1/3 frames of action the last time he faced them on Aug. 12, but recorded a victory.

Vladimir Guerrero is a lifetime .333 batter (16-for-48) against Penny and his lone hit on Saturday was the 2,586th of his career, tying him with Julio Franco for the most all-time by a Dominican-born player.

He'll look to snap that tie today and help Brian Matusz finish a horrid 2011 campaign on a good note.

The 24-year-old came into the season with high expectations, but is just 1-8 with a 10.68 ERA in 11 major league starts. He hasn't won since June 6, losing eight straight decisions since while giving up at least five earned runs in seven outings in a row.

Matusz's last two starts have come against New York and Boston, with the 24- year-old allowing 11 runs over just three total innings in those two games. He got a no-decision versus the Yankees and a loss to the Red Sox.

"It's frustrating to be able to go out there and not hold the opponent," Matusz said. "I'm just going to keep building, keep working, that's all I can do."

Matusz has won both of his previous career starts versus the Tigers with a 1.64 ERA in that span.