Trying to avoid a sweep, the Detroit Tigers will send their stopper to the mound on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.
After losing three straight starts from May 24 to June 3, it appeared that Justin Verlander had lost a bit of his mojo. But the American League's reigning Cy Young and MVP has bounced back brilliantly in interleague play.
Verlander has allowed just five earned runs in his last 21 innings, all coming against National League foes. He pitched seven innings against the Cardinals on June 19 while allowing just one run, earning his seventh win of the year in the process.
Verlander's last start marked the 57th straight outing he's worked at least six innings, which is the longest streak since Steve Carlton's 69-game run from 1979-82.
The right-hander hopes for a similar outcome as the last time he faced the Pirates, when he threw a one-hit shutout on May 18, striking out a season-high 12.
The Pirates will counter with Kevin Correia, who has a 3-6 record and a 4.12 ERA.
Correia lost five consecutive starts earlier in the year, but he has been much more successful of late. He's 2-1 with a 3.68 ERA in June, which includes 5 1/3 scoreless innings in a June 19 win over Minnesota.
The veteran right-hander has had success in his career against the Tigers, sporting a 3.55 ERA while allowing just 11 hits and zero walks in 12 2/3 innings.
The Pirates continued their excellent play on Saturday, winning for the sixth time in their last seven games by holding to a 4-1 victory.
After struggling through much of the month of June, Brad Lincoln (4-2) finally put together a good start after being promoted from middle reliever to the starting rotation. The right-hander allowed just two hits and one earned run over six innings of work while striking out seven and walking just one.
"We did want to give (Lincoln) an opportunity to pitch at home," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Our pitchers have pitched well here. There's a comfort zone here, they're aggressive and attack the zone, and Brad was able to follow suit with that today."
Four Pittsburgh relievers combined to pitch three scoreless innings, with Joel Hanrahan closing it out for his 19th save of the year.
The big blow was dealt in the bottom of the fourth inning by Andrew McCutchen, who blasted a three-run homer, his 13th long ball of the year.
Max Scherzer (6-5) pitched well in the defeat, with that pitch to McCutchen one of the few mistakes he made all afternoon. He finished allowing three hits, three runs and one walk in six innings of work while striking out seven.
His 107 strikeouts is tops in the American League, though he is likely to get passed by his teammate this afternoon, as Verlander currently sits with 106 strikeouts.
Miguel Cabrera belted his 15th homer of the year. The solo shot was one of just four hits for the Tigers on the day.