Chicago, IL – Justin Verlander continued his interleague dominance with eight strong innings, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs, 5-3, to win a three-game series at Wrigley Field.
Verlander (6-4) picked up his 17th win in 23 career interleague starts after allowing two runs on Thursday. He struck out eight batters and lowered his career interleague ERA to 2.73 in his first win since May 18.
The reigning AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner had gone four starts without a win, his longest such stretch since 2009.
Austin Jackson homered and knocked in the winning run in a three-hit game for Detroit, which has won five of seven. Jose Valverde received his 13th save despite yielding a run in the ninth.
"You've got to take it game by game. We can't try to do too much," Jackson said. "We've definitely been battling these last couple months. We've been going out there and putting up the effort, and if we do that we'll be in a good spot at the end of the year."
Darwin Barney had a pair of hits and knocked in a run for the Cubs, who continue to sit in the National League's basement after seeing their June record drop to 3-10.
Travis Wood (0-3) is still winless in a Cubs uniform after giving up three runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings.
"It was another battle for me out there today," Wood said. "I was able to keep it close and pitch out of a lot of jams. A guy like Verlander is a great pitcher even when he doesn't have his 'A' game."
Thursday's matchup was an enormous mismatch on paper, with arguably the game's best pitcher going against the team with the worst record in the majors.
The Tigers predictably jumped out to an early lead behind Verlander, scoring in each of the first two innings on RBI doubles from Prince Fielder and recently recalled Ryan Raburn.
Chicago, however, pushed a pair across in the home second after Alfonso Soriano and Bryan LaHair both singled to begin the inning. Barney's one-out double scored Soriano, and Luis Valbuena, playing in his first game of the season, grounded out to plate LaHair from third.
Neither team put a runner past second from the third through the sixth, but the Tigers went ahead for good in the seventh.
Raburn's infield single started the rally, and Verlander's sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Jackson came through with a clutch two-out RBI single to put Detroit ahead, 3-2, before adding some insurance in the ninth with a two- run homer off Shawn Camp.
The home run was crucial for the Tigers because Valverde yielded an RBI groundout by David DeJesus in the last half-inning.
Raburn had been sent down to the minors in May after a .209 on-base percentage in 37 games..Valbuena's contract was selected from Triple-A Iowa on Thursday. The team also activated catcher Welington Castillo from the 15-day disabled list while placing infielder Ian Stewart on the DL and designating catcher Koyie Hill for assignment...Tigers infielder Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-5 Thursday and 2-for-14 in the series...Wood compiled 11 wins with the Reds before an offseason trade...Verlander has twice had streaks of five games without earning a win.