Justin Verlander upstaged young pitcher Lance Lynn to help the Detroit Tigers maintain their recent run of good form with a 6-3 victory over the visiting St Louis Cardinals on Tuesday.
Verlander flashed his reigning American League MVP form in pitching seven innings and allowing three runs, only one of them earned, as the Tigers (33-34) won for the fifth time in their last six games.
"I was trying to be economical," said Verlander, who was hardly dominant in striking out three and walking four but did improve his record to 7-4.
"That's why you saw a lot of 91-92 (mph fastballs).
"My guys gave me a four, five-run lead. I'm not trying to go out there and strike out anybody. I'm just trying to get some quick innings and allow myself to get deeper in the game and prepare us for the rest of the series."
Detroit's offense were quick to pounce on the 25-year-old Lynn, who has been red-hot this season and entered the game seeking a league-best 11th win before running into trouble.
Austin Jackson struck a two-RBI double in the second inning where the home team scored three times before moving ahead 5-0 in the fifth, the final inning Lynn (10-3) pitched.
"With a team like this, if you're behind in the count, they're going to hurt you," Lynn said. "And that's what happened tonight. I have to be better than that, especially with who they had (pitching) for them."
St Louis (34-34) scored two runs in the seventh on an error by outfielder Quintin Berry but stumbled to their third loss in four games.
Detroit's closer Jose Valverde was withdrawn before the game with pain in his right wrist, prompting Phil Coke to work the ninth for his first save of the season.
The Tigers banged out 12 hits in total, getting two each from Berry, Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta.
Their recent run has the Tigers just two games behind first-place Cleveland Indians in the Central Division.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)