- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2008

BALTIMORE | Justin Verlander walked off the mound, waved his cap and blew a kiss to a few special fans. The right-hander was disappointed about coming within an out of completing a three-hitter, yet that was arguably his only regret during a memorable afternoon.

Verlander impressed family and friends with a masterful pitching performance, and Magglio Ordonez and Marcus Thames hit solo homers as the Detroit Tigers beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-1, their 15th consecutive loss on a Sunday.

Verlander was raised near Richmond before pitching for Old Dominion, and several in the crowd of 23,278 traveled the 150 miles north to see him pitch.

“I left 21 tickets, but I saw a bunch of other people I knew,” Verlander said.

Referring to his gesture as he headed to the dugout, he said, “My whole family was up there, so that’s just my way of telling them I love you guys. Obviously I can’t go up there and say that.”

Verlander (8-9) was replaced by Todd Jones after allowing his second walk of the ninth inning. Jones walked Aubrey Huff before Brandon Inge made an excellent diving stab of a grounder down the third-base line by Kevin Millar, then threw to first from his knees to end it.

“What was going through my mind at that time? Verlander pitched a great game. There was no chance I was going to let this ball get to the outfield,” Inge said. “Whether I make the play or not, there is no chance this ball is getting by me.”

Verlander retired 16 straight batters between a second-inning double by Luke Scott and a seventh-inning double by Millar. The only other hit against him was an eighth-inning single by Guillermo Quiroz.

“He had good stuff. I was wondering how he had such a high ERA [4.15] coming into the game with the way he threw today,” Huff said. “That’s the Verlander that I’ve seen in the past. He has such a big differential between his off-speed pitches and his fastball.”

Verlander walked three and struck out three.

“Obviously, I wanted to go all nine, but 8 2/3 will do,” he said.

The Tigers have won each of Verlander’s last six starts, and he’s unbeaten in eight outings since June 6. During that span he recorded Detroit’s lone complete game this season against the Chicago White Sox.

Ryan Raburn had two RBI for the Tigers, who gained a split of the four-game series to move back to .500 (49-49).

Scott drove in the lone run for the Orioles, whose 15-game skid on Sundays is the longest on any given day since Arizona dropped 15 straight on Saturdays in 2004, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Baltimore has been outscored 81-41 in Sunday games since winning its first one of the season at home against Seattle.

“It’s frustrating,” Quiroz said. “It’s something that we have to get out of the way.”

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