Thursday, May 20, 2010

Verlander Wins 4th Straight; Venable, Gonzalez Stop Dodger Streak at Nine

Players of the Day for Wednesday, May 19, 2010 American League With their 5-1 win at Oakland on Thursday, the Detroit Tigers have clawed their way to within one game of first place in the AL Central division. While Boston was topping division-leading Minnesota by a 3-2 score, Tiger fans were cheering on their ace, Justin Verlander, pitching what appears to have been his best outing of the season. Improving his record to 5-2, Verlander mowed down all but five A's batters, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out five in a complete game victory, his first of the season. Verlander threw 114 pitches, 80 for strikes and wasn't touched up for a run until the bottom of the 8th inning, after his teammates had already put a five-spot on the scoreboard. He finished strong, retiring the side in the 9th inning in order, getting Ryan Sweeney on strikes to end the game. Following a 1-2 start, Verlander has converted his last four starts into victories, allowing just five earned runs in 30 innings during that span. National League Winners of nine straight, the LA Dodgers welcomed the first-place Padres into Chavez Ravine with a shot at taking over first place at the conclusion of their 2-game series, but those hopes were dashed as the Padres took advantage of weak LA pitching, posting a one-sided, 10-5 win which kept San Diego two games in front of the Los Angelinos. The Padres jumped on LA starter Ramon Ortiz quickly, scoring a run in the first inning, 2 more in the third and 5 in the fourth, capped by an Adrian Gonzalez (left) three-run homer after the Dodgers had replaced on Ramon for another. The Gonzalez homer came off Ramon Troncoso, who didn't retire a batter, allowing a single to David Ecksein, Gonzo's stroke and another homer by third baseman Chase Headley. Ortiz was tagged for 5 runs in 3 1/2 innings; Troncoso credited for allowing three. Gonzalez accounted for the two runs in the second with a single which plated a pair, and finished the scoring in the 9th by driving home Will Venable (right), who went 4-for-4, scored 4 times and drove in a run with a single, two doubles and a triple. The six RBI by Gonzalez gave him 25 for the season, well behind league-leader Andre Ethier, who has 38, but missed the game due to a broken bone in his right pinky finger. Ethier has already lost one third of his triple crown lead, as Kelly Johnson hit his 12th homer (Ethier has 11) in Arizona's 13-1 stampede over the Giants. The Gonzalez homer was his 9th of the season. The Dodgers host the Padres again on Thursday, before the two part ways for inter-league play beginning Friday. The Giants remain sandwiched between them, 1 1/2 games behind San Diego in the division.

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