for this game

Verlander takes no-hitter into 8th inning

Jun 15, 2011 - 3:46 AM Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Justin Verlander certainly looked unhittable -- and he nearly was.

Chasing history, the Tigers right-hander had a no-hitter going through 7 1/3 innings against the Indians on Tuesday until Orlando Cabrera laced a high fastball into center field for a single to break it up.

"He put a good swing on it," said Verlander. "Sometimes you tip your cap."

Verlander, who pitched the second no-no of his career last month, settled for his fifth career shutout instead, striking out 12 and giving up just two hits in a 4-0 win over Cleveland.

Carlos Santana blooped a single into left field in the ninth for the second hit.

Unbeaten since April 27, the week before he no-hit the Blue Jays, Verlander (8-3) won his fifth straight decision and improved to 4-0 in his last four starts.

He threw 82 of his 117 pitches for strikes, reaching the upper 90s with his fastball and showing great command of his changeup and breaking ball.

"I thought it was a possibility" that he'd throw a no-hitter, said Tigers manager Jim Leyland. "I'm on record as saying he's got the best stuff of any pitcher I've ever had."

After the game, Verlander was presented with the notion that people have begun to expect these types of performances from him. He tossed his first no-hitter in 2007 against Milwaukee -- on June 12, nearly four years ago to the day.

"I believe as a starting pitcher you have to have that mentality," said Verlander. "You go out there and don't expect to give up a hit."

Miguel Cabrera, Andy Dirks and Alex Avila each had an RBI in Detroit's three- run third inning. Dirks knocked in a second run in the seventh and had three of Detroit's 11 hits.

The Tigers improved to 12-4 in their last 16 games to take first place in the AL Central from the Indians, who fell to 5-15 in their last 20.

It was the opener of a three-game series.

"[Verlander] was dominant and not the right matchup for us the way we're swinging the bats right now," said Indians manager Manny Acta.

Indians starter Justin Masterson (5-5) took the loss after giving up four runs -- two earned -- and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out four, walked five and fell to 0-5 in his last nine starts after beginning the season 5-0.

Verlander evened his career record against the Indians at 11-11. He allowed only four baserunners, including one in the first inning when he hit Santana with his eighth pitch of the game.

He didn't allow another baserunner until Michael Brantley drew a one-out walk in the seventh.

The Tigers defense got him out of trouble.

Miguel Cabrera snagged Asdrubal Cabrera's sharp grounder at first, stepping on the bag and throwing to second to get Brantley for a 3-6 double play that ended the inning.

Five innings earlier, in the second, Shin-Soo Choo drove Verlander's 2-1 fastball to the warning track in left-center, but center fielder Austin Jackson leaped to catch it at the wall.

The shot may or may not have had enough distance for a home run.

Miguel Cabrera and Avila had sacrifice flies in the third inning, while Dirks hit an RBI single. Dirks also had an RBI single in the seventh.

Verlander was trying to become only the sixth major league pitcher in history with two no-hitters in the same season. Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano came within six outs of doing it against Texas on Sunday.

Game Notes

It wasn't the first time history was almost made in a game between these teams. Last June 2, of course, is when Armando Galarraga's perfect game against the Indians was ruined by Jim Joyce's blown call at first base...The Tigers snapped a six-game losing streak against the Indians and avenged a three-game sweep in Cleveland earlier this season...The Tigers improved to 4-2 on an eight-game homestand.