Right-handed ace Justin Verlander makes his 34th career start against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night when the Detroit Tigers visit their closest pursuers in the American League's Central Division at Progressive Field.
The Tigers began the four-game series with a win - and stretched their first- place lead to four games - when Alex Avila clubbed the go-ahead three-run homer off Chris Perez in the ninth inning.
Cleveland, which entered with an 11-game home winning streak, suffered its second loss in 12 overall contests while the Tigers won their ninth straight after a perfect 8-0 homestand.
Corey Kluber pitched into the eighth inning, and the Indians got early runs on hits from Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana, but Perez (4-2) suffered his third blown save of the season and first since May 18 versus Seattle.
Detroit won nine of the initial 12 games between the teams in 2013, including three of four in a series at Cleveland between July 5 and July 8.
Verlander, a 17-game winner last season in 33 starts, picked up his 11th win this year on July 31 he toppled Washington, 11-1, with six innings of four-hit ball and six strikeouts.
The win ended a two-start skid in which the former first-round draft pick was shelled for 13 runs in 11 2/3 innings on the road at Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox.
He is 16-14 in 33 previous meetings with the Indians while posting a 4.65 earned run average in 209 innings, while allowing an opposition batting average of .237.
Verlander is 6-4 on the road this season and 8-10 in 19 career starts at Progressive Field.
For the Indians, righty Justin Masterson will try to eliminate the remnants of his last meeting with Detroit on July 5.
In that game, also at Progressive Field, Masterson was shelled for six runs on seven hits in just 4 2/3 innings while dropping a 7-0 decision.
The loss lowered him to 2-8 against Detroit in 16 career meetings, during which he's posted a 5.50 ERA in 75 1/3 innings.
Masterson is 3-0 in four starts since the defeat, however, and has given up just four runs in his last 28 innings of work.