Justin Verlander pitched eight solid innings for his first win in a month and the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs 5-3 on Thursday in front of another receptive crowd at Wrigley Field.
Verlander also helped himself with a pair of sacrifices as Detroit capped an encouraging 4-2 interleague road trip to Cincinnati and Chicago. Austin Jackson hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh and a two-run homer in the ninth.
The combination of Verlander and a picturesque day in Chicago led to a season-high crowd of 42,292 that ran the total for the series to 124,782, setting a Wrigley Field record for a midweek three-game set. Tigers fans made up a good amount of that total, and they cheered everything Verlander did in the finale.
The Cubs scored two runs in the second on Darwin Barney's double and Luis Valbuena's groundout, but that was it against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
Verlander, who also won the MVP award for his dominant 2011 season, retired 10 in a row and 16 of 17 batters following Barney's one-out hit in the second. Pitcher Travis Wood was the only one to reach during that string, but he was cut down trying to stretch his two-out liner in the fifth into a double.
Verlander (6-4) yielded five hits, struck out eight and walked none in his first victory since he flirted with a no-hitter while allowing just one hit in a 6-0 victory against Pittsburgh on May 18. The ace right-hander was 0-3 with a 4.10 ERA in his previous four starts.
Jose Valverde allowed a run in the ninth before finishing for his 13th save in 16 chances.
Jackson also hit a leadoff double in the first and scored on Prince Fielder's double. He went 3 for 4 and is batting .359 (23 for 64) in his last 17 games.
Wood (0-3) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings. The left-hander struck out three, walked two and hit two batters.
Verlander went 0 for 1 to leave him hitless in 22 career at-bats, but that didn't diminish his day at the plate. He moved Ryan Raburn to second with a perfect sacrifice in the seventh and Jackson followed with a base hit to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead.
NOTES: The Tigers placed LHP Drew Smyly (blister) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled INF Raburn from Triple-A Toledo. ... The Cubs put 3B Ian Stewart (sore left wrist) on the DL and promoted INF Valbuena from Triple-A Iowa. They also activated C Welington Castillo from the DL and designated C Koyie Hill for assignment. ... Detroit RHP Doug Fister will come off the DL to start Saturday's home game against Colorado. He had been sidelined with a left side strain. The Tigers will make a corresponding roster move before the game. ... Michigan State men's basketball coach Tom Izzo was on the field before the game. ... The Cubs host the Boston Red Sox for a three-game series beginning on Friday afternoon. RHP Ryan Dempster (2-3, 2.31 ERA) faces Red Sox RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-1, 7.20 ERA) in the opener. ... The Tigers return home to open a three-game set against Colorado on Friday night. LHP Casey Crosby (1-1, 9.35 ERA) and Rockies LHP Jeff Francis (0-1, 21.60 ERA) are scheduled to face off in the first game.
Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap