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CWS@DET: Verlander fans six over eight for win No. 11

Tigers ace Justin Verlander and Red Sox right-hander Josh Beckett had two memorable pitching duels in 2011, combing for 27 2/3 innings and allowing 11 hits and six runs while striking out 20. This year, those numbers are a bit different.

Although each pitcher has faced the opposing team twice this season, Tuesday night's contest marks the first they'll take the mound opposite each other -- barring Beckett being traded. In the four combined 2012 starts, Verlander and Beckett are 0-3 and have yielded 29 hits and 16 runs while tallying 18 K's in 25 2/3 innings.

Verlander had a spectacular Opening Day performance, giving up just two hits in eight innings of work, but he received a no-decision. He came back to earth on May 29, as the Sox pegged the reigning American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner for a season-high five earned runs and 10 hits, which were his most hits allowed since Sept. 2, 2010.

"Justin just wasn't as sharp as normal," manager Jim Leyland said after that game, "but give them credit. They swung the bats real good and we just couldn't get enough offense going."

Beckett's had an even harder time vs. the Tigers. As the Red Sox righty tries to close out a poor July, in which he owns a 1-2 record with a 6.38 ERA, he'll face a Detroit team that hasn't been kind to him thus far.

In his first start of the year, he was bombed for seven runs on five home runs in 4 2/3 innings at Comerica Park. He became the first pitcher to serve up back-to-back homers to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He also allowed two bombs to each.

His second start on May 31 at Fenway lasted a bit longer -- seven innings -- and he kept the ball in the park, but he scattered 10 hits and Detroit scored four runs.

"You're going to have five pitches in a game that you're going to have to make," Beckett said after the 6-3 loss. "I think I made three of them today, and the other two cost me three runs in one inning."

Clearly, neither hurler was happy with their late-May starts. And with both coming off losses, maybe the two pitching against each other will be exactly what they need to bring out the best in them once again.

Tigers: Smyly healthy, but sent to Toledo
The result of acquiring Anibal Sanchez last week is rookie left-hander Drew Smyly being shipped back to Triple-A Toledo. The 23-year-old Smyly had been sidelined since July 7 with a right intercostal strain. He is healthy enough to pitch, but with no room in the Tigers' rotation, he will do so for the Mud Hens.

Smyly is 4-3 with a 4.42 ERA with Detroit. Before hitting the disabled list, he was 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two July starts. He recorded a career-high 10 K's vs. the Royals in his last outing on July 6.

Red Sox: Beckett being shopped
As of Monday morning, the Red Sox were having "exploratory trade talks" with teams involving Beckett, but nothing appeared imminent. Two of the teams rumored to be contacted were the Rangers and Braves. However, Beckett has 10-and-5 veto rights, and the fact he's 32 years old with a 5-9 record and 4.57 ERA makes it difficult to get high value players in return.

ESPN's Buster Olney also tweeted: "It's unlikely the Red Sox will trade Josh Beckett, after talking with a handful of teams about him."

"I like my team. I think we're a good team," manager Bobby Valentine said. "If there's any way [general manager] Ben [Cherington] thinks we can improve it for this year and beyond, I'm sure he's going to do that, but this is a good group of guys."

Worth noting
• Verlander is 3-3 with a 3.22 ERA in nine career starts vs. Boston. Beckett is 3-4 with a 3.86 ERA in eight career starts vs. Detroit.

• Carl Crawford is 9-for-29 (.310) against Verlander in his career. He's the only active Red Sox batter with at least a .300 average and at least 10 at-bats vs. Verlander.

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