Tigers go after ninth straight win and sweep of Astros

( - If the Detroit Tigers aren't already the best team in baseball, they're certainly making a case for winning over any remaining doubters. And left-hander Drew Smyly will get the chance to continue the quest on Thursday afternoon, when he and the Tigers aim for their ninth consecutive victory in the finale of a four-game series with the Houston Astros at Comerica Park.

The hosts won their third straight over the visiting Astros on Wednesday, when Victor Martinez's solo homer in the sixth inning proved to be the difference in a 3-2 decision.

Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer for the Tigers and Rick Porcello (5-1) allowed two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings.

Marwin Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler each had an RBI for the Astros, who have dropped five straight.

Brad Peacock (0-3) gave up three runs on four hits with four walks over 6 2/3 innings.

Smyly gets another chance to stay in the starting rotation as well. He made 18 starts to begin his career in 2012 before making 63 appearances in relief last season and beginning 2014 with two more arrivals from the bullpen.

He's made three starts since, though, and tossed seven innings in his most recent outing - striking out six and allowing just two hits in a 9-2 defeat of Kansas City on Saturday.

"Smyly was outstanding," manager Brad Ausmus said. "I think he had nine days since his last start. He was throwing strikes (and) he seemed to be using all his pitches, which is important as a starter. He pitched really well."

Dallas Keuchel gets the call for Houston with the chance to last at least six innings for the sixth straight game.

He allowed four runs in six innings of a Saturday start against Seattle, a game the Astros lost, 9-8.

He'd surrendered just two hits through five innings and a single run in six, but was tagged with three more runs in the seventh without recording an out.

"I just felt kind of sluggish," Keuchel said. "There are a few games every once in a while where you feel sluggish out of the gate, and I was thankful to make it through the first couple unscathed. It feels like a train hit me in the seventh. It's not like me to walk three guys in a row."

He had a start and a relief appearance against the Tigers in 2013 and went 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA.

Houston has lost 10 of 11 against the Tigers.