- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

HOUSTON (AP) - The Tigers are encouraged by Justin Verlander’s progress even though their ace hasn’t won in almost a month.

Verlander allowed six hits with three runs and eight strikeouts in six innings before Jason Castro hit a solo homer in the 11th inning to give Houston a 4-3 win Friday night to snap Detroit’s seven-game winning streak.

Verlander’s last win came on May 30 and he’s had three losses and did not factor into the decision twice since then.

“I feel about as good as you can when the team loses,” Verlander said. “I’m turning in the right direction, but we still lost. A couple of bad-luck situations there. That happens. Have to focus on the positives.”


Verlander hasn’t been nearly as dominant as he had been in recent years and is 6-7 with a 4.80 ERA this season. But first-year manager Brad Ausmus thinks he’s improving.

“Obviously, his stuff is coming along,” Ausmus said. “He’s getting more swings than misses. He’s working in the right direction.”

Castro launched a pitch from Blaine Hardy (0-1) into the seats in right field with one out in the 11th to give Houston the victory.

The Tigers tied it when Eugenio Suarez scored on an error in the eighth inning. Jake Buchanan (1-1) pitched a perfect 11th for his first major league win.

Jose Altuve had four hits, an RBI and two steals, including one of home, for the Astros. It was the MLB-leading 33rd multi-hit game this season for Altuve, who leads baseball with 111 hits. He also leads the American League with 32 stolen bases.

Altuve scored a run in the first and tied it up with a RBI double in the fifth. He stole home later that inning to give Houston a 3-2 lead.

Verlander lamented allowing Altuve to steal two bases while he was on the mound.

“Being able to take that base in the (first) led to a run,” the right-hander said. “Being able to take the extra base on the pickoff to first was another run. He’s one of those guys you have to keep off the base paths, and that is not easily done.”

First baseman Jon Singleton let a foul ball hit by Suarez drop for an error with no outs in the eighth inning. Suarez then drew a walk and reached second on a groundout by Torii Hunter for the second out.

Jonathan Villar’s error on a ball hit by Miguel Cabrera allowed him to reach and Suarez to score to tie it at 3-3.

Nick Castellanos had a solo homer to give the Tigers the lead in the fourth inning and Ian Kinsler had three hits for his sixth straight multi-hit game, a career-high. He’s second to Altuve with 32 multi-hit games this season.

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