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DET@CLE: Verlander strikes out nine over five frames

If there's any cure for Justin Verlander's recent struggles, it's the National League.

Verlander is 19-2 with a 2.64 ERA in Interleague Play in his career, and 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA over the last two seasons.

But things haven't been so rosy for Verlander in May. The fireballer is just 2-2 with a 7.32 ERA, and opponents are batting .296 against him.

"I think you learn that getting out of composure's never a good thing for a pitcher," Verlander said. "You talk about the pitchers with poise -- you can't tell whether they're winning or losing. I want to be that guy that's out there and if somebody just tuned in, they can't tell what's going on. Just continue after one pitch, reset and focus on the next pitch."

Verlander's counterpart, Pirates lefty Francisco Liriano, got to know the Tigers pretty well during his time in Minnesota. But not in the way he'd like.

Liriano is 5-7 with a 5.93 ERA against Detroit in his career, a trend he'll hope to reverse when the Pirates visit Comerica Park to begin a two-game set on Monday afternoon. Liriano is 3-0 and has allowed just two earned runs in three starts this season.

"It'll be no mystery for him to face them, so there should be some comfort zone for him," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's done OK against that team -- couple matchups have gone his way, a few that haven't. He's been pitching well, and this will be a good opportunity to see what he can do against one of the best lineups in baseball."

Pirates third baseman Brandon Inge will be reunited with Verlander and some other former teammates Monday. Inge spent the first 11 years of his career in Detroit, and he will face off against the Tigers for the first time as an opponent.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland called Inge a "terrific athlete and competitor," and praised his loyalty to the organization.

"His toughness and competitive nature was second to none," Leyland said. "He played every day and competed hard every day, and that's all you can ask of a player."

Pirates: Jones on track to DH in Detroit
Garrett Jones will likely serve as the Pirates' designated hitter for both of the team's games in Detroit before they return home for a pair of contests against the Tigers at PNC Park. Gaby Sanchez will play first, and Travis Snider will likely remain in right field.

Jones is a .269 hitter with a home run and four RBIs in 67 career at-bats as a DH.

• The Pirates have won 16 games this month, their most victories in May since winning 17 in 1999.

• Righty James McDonald is expected to make a rehab start for Double-A Altoona on Monday. McDonald has been on the disabled list since May 7 with stiffness in his right shoulder.

• The Pirates are fresh off their first series win in Milwaukee since last June 1-3.

Tigers: Veterans will be honored
The Tigers will wear camouflage jerseys on Memorial Day and honor members and veterans of the Armed Forces. The team donated 1,500 tickets to local servicemen and women and their families for the game.

• Detroit has won 49 of its last 68 home games dating back to July 4, 2012, the best mark in the American League in that span.

Worth nothing
• Liriano has appeared in 23 games against the Tigers, his most against any team. He is 3-4 with a 6.18 ERA lifetime at Comerica Park.

• Verlander took a no-hitter into the ninth against the Pirates at Comerica Park last May, then threw a complete game at PNC Park a month later.

• The Pirates have an extra-base hit in 45 consecutive games, the longest streak in baseball. The Tigers are second at 42. Comments