Tigers try to extend win streak over Cubs

Max Scherzer certainly enjoyed his first interleague start of the season.

The Detroit right-hander will look to duplicate his success from a few weeks back against another National League opponent this evening, when the Tigers go for an eighth straight victory over the Chicago Cubs.

Scherzer takes the hill for the opener of this three-game series after having a three-start and four-decision winning streak snapped with a loss to the Indians on Wednesday. He was charged with eight runs -- five earned -- on seven hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings.'

The 27-year-old struggled keeping the ball in the park, giving up two homers for the third time in four outings. He has yielded 13 homers in his 12 starts on the season, producing a 5-4 record and 5.88 earned run average.

Scherzer had faced the Cubs once before and did not get a decision in what was his third big league appearance with the Diamondbacks. That outing came on May 10, 2008 and he gave up one unearned in six innings of work with six strikeouts.

Scherzer, though, dominated the Pirates back on May 20 despite giving up two solo homers. He struck out a career-high 15 batters over seven innings of two- run ball to earn a win.

"He was tough today," Pittsburgh's Rod Barajas said about Scherzer. "Sometimes guys are going to go out there with their best stuff. A guy like Scherzer, if he has his best stuff on any given day, he's going to dominate."

The Tigers have certainly dominated the Cubs as of late, winning seven in a row over the club since a loss in Detroit on July 7, 2001. Their current series winning streak includes three-game sweeps in Chicago (2006) and Detroit (2009).

The Tigers have also won five in a row at Wrigley Field and haven't lost there since June 2, 2000.

Detroit won for the third time in four games on Sunday, rallying to beat Cincinnati 7-6.

The Tigers went ahead with a four-run eighth inning, loading the bases in the frame and getting their first run when Matt Young was hit by a pitch. Austin Jackson, who hit a solo homer earlier, added a ground-rule double that brought home a pair of runs and Young later scored on a wild pitch.

Brayan Villarreal worked two innings and got the win despite allowing a homer. Starter Drew Smyly gave up three runs on four hits before leaving after the third inning with a blister on his left middle finger.

"He came up and said 'I can't go anymore,'" commented Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I looked and I said 'Oh my God.' I've never seen anything like it. I couldn't believe it. It's the biggest blister I've ever seen."

The Cubs are returning home following a 2-8 road trip. They snapped a four- game slide with Sunday's 8-2 win over the Twins.

Ryan Dempster tossed eight shutout innings of four-hit ball and has not allowed a run over his last 15 innings. Dempster has surrendered two runs or fewer in eight of his 11 outings this season.

"He throws the ball where he wants to, he's a veteran guy who's been around," Minnesota third baseman Trevor Plouffe said of Dempster's day. "He had his stuff working again and when he has that, he's going to be tough."

David DeJesus, Alfonso Soriano, Jeff Baker, Joe Mather and Darwin Barney recorded an RBI apiece while Reed Johnson and Starlin Castro each scored three times.

The Cubs turn to left-hander Paul Maholm tonight and he is winless in five starts since throwing seven scoreless innings to beat the Braves on May 9. He is 0-3 with a 6.41 ERA over the drought and gave up four runs on six hits and a walk in just four innings of work in a loss to the Brewers on Wednesday.

"I went from cruising to battling, to missing some pitches, and that's when they really put the ball in play," lamented Maholm. "I didn't want to come out that early."

The 29-year-old is 4-5 with a 5.10 ERA in 11 starts this season and 0-1 with a 2.38 ERA in two career meetings with the Tigers.