for this game

Red-hot Tigers rely on Scherzer in opener with Astros

May 5, 2014 - 2:28 PM ( - Reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer gets a home start against the team with the fewest wins in the majors on Monday night, when his Detroit Tigers host the Houston Astros to open a four-game series at Comerica Park.

Scherzer has won three straight starts for a suddenly red-hot Tigers team that finished a seven-game road trip with five consecutive victories, is the only team in the AL's Central Division above .500 and leads the division by 4 1/2 games.

Detroit outscored Kansas City, 26-8, in its three-game weekend sweep.

Scherzer takes the mound after former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander and aims to continue a run in which he's compiled a stingy 1.42 earned run average across 19 innings and struck out 26 batters. He downed the Chicago White Sox for his third consecutive win on Wednesday, throwing six scoreless innings in Detroit's 5-1 triumph.

He's struck out at least seven batters in each of his six starts.

In two starts last season against the Astros, Scherzer was 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA. One year ago Sunday, he threw eight innings of one-hit baseball at Houston's Minute Maid Park in a 17-2 rout.

Right-hander Jarred Cosart gets the start opposite Scherzer and will try for a sixth time to pick up his first win since April 2.

He was a 3-1 winner over the New York Yankees in his inaugural start of the season, but has been hit to the tune of a 6.58 ERA in five subsequent starts while losing two decisions.

In his two most recent starts, however, he's given up just four runs in 12 2/3 innings.

On Sunday in Houston, Robinson Cano and Willie Bloomquist each had two RBI as the Seattle Mariners defeated the Astros, 8-7, in the rubber match of a three- game set.

Alex Presley homered for the Astros, who have lost four of their last five.

Collin McHugh (2-1) lasted just four frames, taking his first loss in a Houston uniform after surrendering six runs -- five earned -- with four strikeouts.

McHugh allowed just one earned run in his first two starts, pitching 15 1/3 innings with 19 strikeouts.

In Kansas City, Verlander carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning as the Tigers cruised to a 9-4 win over the Royals to complete their sweep.

Verlander (4-1) allowed three runs on four hits and four walks -- all in the seventh -- to earn the win while striking out seven.

Torii Hunter went 3-for-5 with three RBI, Alex Avila hit a two-run homer and Nick Castellanos clubbed a solo shot for the Tigers.

Detroit was 6-1 versus the Astros a year ago.