DETROIT | The Detroit Tigers, the American League’s best team at home, set themselves up for a division showdown by sweeping baseball’s worst team anywhere.
Max Scherzer pitched seven solid innings and Danny Worth hit his first homer, helping Detroit beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-2 on Wednesday night.
The AL Central-leading Tigers swept the three-game series and they’ve won five of six at Comerica Park, improving to a league-best 30-12 at home.
“We’ve got it going,” Scherzer said. “Here at home, we’re pretty comfortable.”
In Baltimore or on the road, the Orioles have simply been bad.
The Orioles have lost six of seven — dropping to a season-worst 34 games under .500 — and are the only team in the majors without at least 10 wins as visitors and with fewer than 30 victories overall.
“We can’t worry about our record,” said manager Juan Samuel, who is 10-20 since Dave Trembley was fired. “We can only worry about the next game.”
After an off day Thursday, Detroit will open a three-game series at home against Minnesota.
Ace Justin Verlander will pitch for the Tigers and Francisco Liriano for the Twins, whose loss at Toronto on Wednesday night gave Detroit a season-high 1½-game lead in the AL Central.
“I’m looking forward to Friday,” said slugger Miguel Cabrera, who extended his hitting season to 16 games in the series finale against Baltimore. “But I’m not looking at anything beyond that — Saturday, September or October.”
Looking back, it seemed to help Scherzer get sent to the minors in May to work on his mechanics.
Scherzer (6-6) has won a career-high four straight. He gave up one run on six hits and two walks while striking out six.
“His command is good and the ball is coming out of his hand an easy 94, 95,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “He’s on a pretty decent roll right now.”
Robbie Weinhardt gave up a run in his major league debut and Phil Coke got the final three outs for his first save with the Tigers.
“With their bullpen, if you let them get a lead late in the game, it is pretty much over,” Samuel said.
Against Baltimore, that’s pretty much been the case regardless of its opponent. The Orioles fell to 0-51 this year when trailing after eight innings.
Brad Bergesen (3-6) gave up four runs and 11 hits in six innings. He hasn’t won in almost two months.
“I felt like I threw the ball well, but there were a couple bad pitches that just killed me,” Bergesen said. “They’ve got a great lineup — the 3-4-5 guys are as tough as it gets in the game — but the guys lower down beat me.”
The Tigers scored one run in the first and third innings and two in the fifth before Baltimore had a run in the seventh.
Rookie Austin Jackson hit a leadoff double — extending his hitting streak to a season-high 11 games — advanced on Johnny Damon’s sacrifice bunt and Magglio Ordonez’s groundout brought him home for the first run.
Worth, playing in his 25th game, led off the third with a solo homer to make it 2-0.
Nick Markakis had a two-out single in the fourth for the Orioles’ first hit after they struck out six times against Scherzer, who fanned 14 in a game earlier this year.
“Our offense has been clicking, but he just shut us down tonight,” Samuel said. “Our guys were having trouble seeing the ball early in the game, which happens here, but we can’t use that as an excuse.”
The Tigers built a four-run cushion they needed in the fifth. Rookie Brennan Boesch hit a two-out double, scored on Carlos Guillen’s single, and Brandon Inge’s RBI double made it 4-0.
Baltimore finally scored in the seventh on Matt Wieters’ RBI single, scoring Adam Jones after he doubled.
Jones led off the ninth with a triple off Weinhardt, ending his night. Wieters hit a sacrifice fly off Coke, who got Felix Pie to pop up and pinch-hitter Jake Fox to strike out.
“Everything is better at home,” Leyland said. “I think we’re very comfortable here — our fans are great — but we have to play better on the road if we’re going to contend for anything in the second half.”
NOTES: Cabrera’s hitting streak is one short of his career high that he set last July. … Baltimore, 1-5 on its road trip, will travel to play Texas on Thursday night. … Jones has hits in 24 of his last 29 games.