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Tigers hand Verlander ball in opener with Indians

Justin Verlander tries to rebound from a shaky outing and get the Detroit Tigers back atop the American League Central standings on Friday when they open a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

Verlander didn't fare so well on Saturday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he permitted six runs and nine hits in six innings. The loss dropped him to 13-8 in 29 outings this season and raised his ERA to 2.91.

In 16 road assignments, Verlander is 6-6 with a 4.02 ERA.

Verlander lost the last time he pitched in Cleveland and is just 13-13 lifetime against the Indians with a 4.72 ERA in 29 starts.

"It was a battle for me all night," Verlander said after his last start with the Tribe. "I didn't really feel great. I never really got in a groove and got comfortable out there."

Detroit has won its last two after a four-game losing streak and enters Friday's matchup a game back of the Chicago White Sox in the division. The Tigers had the finale of their four-game set with the White Sox postponed on Thursday because of rain.

Cleveland, meanwhile, won in thrilling fashion on Thursday, as Ezequiel Carrera and Jason Kipnis both homered in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Indians past the Texas Rangers, 5-4.

Matt LaPorta also hit a home run, as Cleveland snapped a five-game slide.

"We don't really have much to lose," said Kipnis. "We're not gonna just waste at-bats and put our tail between our legs and just accept the loss. Why not just go out there and see what we can get and see what kind of rally we can put together?"

Joe Smith allowed two unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth before Scott Maine (1-0) entered and left the bases loaded to earn the win. Chris Perez worked around a two-out triple in the bottom of the ninth to secure his 36th save of the season.

Getting the call for the Indians on Friday will be righty Corey Kluber, who is 1-3 with a 5.26 ERA. Kluber did not get a decision on Sunday against the Minnesota Twins, as he gave up five runs (4 earned) and eight hits in only 3 2/3 innings.

Kluber picked up his first major league win two starts ago against the Tigers, allowing two runs and six hits in six innings.

Cleveland is 9-6 against the Tigers this season.