- 142 wins
- 110 wins
CHICAGO -- Justin Verlander gave Tigers fans who packed into Wrigley Field plenty to cheer about, and Cubs hitters plenty to think about.
Verlander struck out eight, Prince Fielder hit an RBI double, and Austin Jackson had three hits, including a two-run homer, to power the Tigers to a 5-3 victory Thursday over the Cubs, and take the Interleague series.
"We had to face a tough pitcher today," Chicago's Alfonso Soriano said.
Verlander (6-4) scattered five hits over eight innings, and ended a personal three-game losing streak with the win. He's now 17-2 in Interleague Play.
"My first at-bat, he was throwing it seemed like [batting practice] fastballs, they were like 90 miles an hour, and sometimes you would look up at the board and he was throwing 97 [mph]," the Cubs' Tony Campana said. "Adding and subtracting, that keeps us off balance -- that's good pitching."
For the Cubs, the loss was the 22nd in the last 28 games, and they dropped to 2-7 in Interleague Play this season.
"We're battling each game, we're right there each game," Cubs starter Travis Wood said. "I think we'll keep battling and start winning some ballgames here."
Jackson doubled to lead off the game against Wood (0-3), and scored two outs later on Fielder's double. Ryan Raburn, recalled from Triple-A Toledo prior to the game, added an RBI double in the second to open a 2-0 lead, much to the delight of the thousands of orange-clad Tigers fans in the crowd of 42,292, the biggest of the season at Wrigley Field.
"I love it here," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's a great atmosphere. I've always said a Cubs game is more than a game, it's a happening. It's kind of a neat atmosphere. Fortunately, we came in and won two out of three."
The series drew 124,782, the largest mid-week, three-game series in the ballpark's history.
"They'll spend a lot of money to take their vacations and come to a landmark stadium like this, and spend a lot of money for their tickets," Cubs manager Dale Sveum said of Tigers fans. "It might be the last time a lot of fans get to see their team at Wrigley."
Verlander, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player, isn't used to hitting, and after he reached base on a fielder's choice in the second, he didn't seem quite the same in the next half-inning. Soriano and Bryan LaHair both singled in the second, and one out later, Darwin Barney hit an RBI double. LaHair scored on Luis Valbuena's groundout to tie the game at 2.
Verlander then settled into a groove, giving up two hits over the next six innings.
"After the second, I started to get my rhythm a little bit," Verlander said. "I started throwing my breaking ball for strikes and keeping guys off balance."
One of the hits off the Tigers' right-hander was by Wood, who singled with two outs in the fifth, but was thrown out at second trying to stretch his hit. Barney singled to lead off the eighth but was snuffed out when Valbuena grounded into a double play.
"The stuff is obviously there, and whenever he gets in trouble, he basically gets to another level," Sveum said of the Tigers' ace. "We had had a couple chances and we took advantage, and got two runs off him early, and that's a lot against those kind of guys. Then boom, here comes the breaking balls, here comes the full package to shut you down."
Jackson hit an RBI single in the seventh and homered off Shawn Camp in the ninth, driving in pinch-hitter Don Kelly, who had tripled, dropping the ball over a diving Campana in center.
"If I make the catch, then there's nobody on base and everybody is talking about it, and if I don't [catch it], then everybody is talking about it and there's a guy on third base," Campana said.
The leadoff man got on in every inning against Wood, but he did limit the Tigers to two hits with runners in scoring position.
"For me, I was a little more amped up going agianst a guy like Verlander," Wood said. "You know you have to be on top of your game. Even if he doesn't have his 'A' game, he's still a great pitcher. I think everybody was bringing their 'A' game, or at least, that's what their mindset was. We battled all game, and it wasn't our day."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.