DETROIT — Justin Verlander struck out a career-high 14 in his latest masterful performance, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-0 on Saturday night.
Verlander (10-3) allowed four hits over eight innings, and Alex Avila's three-run homer in the fourth broke the game open. The Tigers pulled into a virtual tie with Cleveland atop the AL Central.
The Diamondbacks fell a half-game behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West.
Verlander walked only one batter. In the eighth inning, he reached 100 miles per hour on the stadium scoreboard — on his 116th pitch.
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Arizona rookie Josh Collmenter (4-4), from the town of Homer in south-central Michigan, allowed six runs and 10 hits in six-plus innings.
Verlander pitched a no-hitter May 7 at Toronto, took one into the sixth inning in his next start and had one broken up in the eighth earlier this month. Fans at Comerica Park have become so accustomed to his dominance that there was a quiet but perceptible cheer Saturday when third baseman Brandon Inge was charged with an error on a hard groundball in the third inning, keeping the Diamondbacks hitless.
One out later, Gerardo Parra hit a clean double down the line in right field, but Verlander struck out Ryan Roberts and retired Kelly Johnson on a comebacker to get out of the jam.
That was nothing compared to the eighth inning, when he allowed a walk and a double, then struck out Roberts, Johnson and Justin Upton in succession to keep Arizona scoreless. The sellout crowd came to its feet with two strikes on Upton before the outfielder chased a ball that was low and outside on Verlander's 119th and last pitch of the night.
Verlander had struck out 13 in a game twice, most recently in 2009. In his last six starts, he's 6-0 with a 0.72 ERA. He's struck out 51 and walked six over that span, which doesn't even include his no-hitter.
Collmenter walked two and struck out four. The 2007 draftee out of Central Michigan University had plenty of fans in attendance and got a nice cheer when he struck out Austin Jackson, the first Detroit hitter of the game.
But Detroit took 1-0 lead in the second when Avila doubled to the gap in right-center. Victor Martinez was able to score from first, sliding home just ahead of the relay.
The Tigers scored four in the fourth. Miguel Cabrera and Martinez led off with singles, Jhonny Peralta hit an RBI double and Avila followed with his 10th homer of the season to make it 5-0.
Verlander wasn't the first major leaguer to reach 10 wins this season. That honor went to CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees earlier in the day. Verlander did pass "Wild Bill" Donovan to move into 10th place on Detroit's career strikeout list. Verlander now has 1,089. Donovan had 1,079.