DETROIT (AP) - The New York Mets did the best they could against Justin Verlander.
When the Detroit ace finally put a stop to their scoring rampage, they turned their attention to another foe.
``Now we start thinking about the Yankees,' manager Terry Collins said. ``If you are going to play interleague games, this is when it gets fun. The whole city will be buzzing this weekend.'
New York lost 5-2 on Thursday to Verlander and the Tigers, but the Mets hope that was a mere blip and not the end of their impressive surge. New York had scored a team-record 52 runs in four games before Verlander held them at bay. The Mets start a three-game home series with the Yankees on Friday night.
Verlander went 6-0 in June with a 0.92 ERA, and tied CC Sabathia for the major league lead in wins this season. Verlander (11-3) has won his last seven starts, allowing two or fewer runs in each.
``He's awesome,' Mets star Jose Reyes said. ``We had him in trouble a couple times, but he always makes a pitch to get out of it. That's why he is one of the best in the game.'
Verlander held New York to one run and seven hits in seven innings. Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth, and Jose Valverde finished for his 19th save.
Daniel Murphy and Carlos Beltran homered for New York's only runs. Andy Dirks hit a solo shot for the Tigers.
Mike Pelfrey (4-7) allowed four earned runs in 4 2-3 innings for the Mets, who took two of three at Texas before doing the same in Detroit.
``This was a tough road trip, so we feel very good about going home with a 4-2 record,' Collins said. ``That shows you that no one on this team was looking past Texas or Detroit to the Subway Series.'
Jonathon Niese is set to start Friday night against Ivan Nova of the Yankees.
Detroit needed a good outing from Verlander after losing 16-9 to the Mets the previous night and 14-3 on Tuesday. Every Tiger that pitched Wednesday gave up at least one run - except utilityman Don Kelly, who took the mound during the ninth that night in an amusing scene.
With the bullpen battered, Verlander went out and threw 120 pitches, striking out six and walking two. It wasn't his most dominating effort, but it came at an important time.
``Each day is a new day in baseball, and that's the beautiful thing about this. They go out and score however many runs in two days with a bunch of hits, but you turn the page,' Verlander said. ``You've got to know as a starting pitcher, no matter what they've done before, if you make your pitches and execute, good pitching beats good hitting.'
About the only thing Verlander didn't do was get Reyes out. The splendid shortstop reached base in all three plate appearances against the Detroit ace, but didn't come around to score.
Reyes led off the game with a double, and the Mets seemed ready to break loose once again. But Jason Pridie followed by lining into a double play.
``We lost today, but we won the series,' Reyes said. ``In the situation we are in right now, that's what we have to do. We have to keep winning series.'
With the Mets down 5-1, Lucas Duda led off the seventh with a triple, but he was thrown out by left fielder Brennan Boesch when he tagged up and tried to score on a fly ball. Collins came out to argue, but to no avail.
Benoit relieved Verlander and allowed Beltran's 12th homer of the season. The Mets hit no homers in their 16-run outburst Wednesday.
Pelfrey gave up eight hits and struck out three. He tied a career high with five walks, all in the first three innings. Detroit left the bases loaded in the first, but Austin Jackson hit an RBI single for the Tigers in the second to make it 1-all after Murphy homered in the top half.
The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the third, and Alex Avila hit a sacrifice fly. Ramon Santiago then hit an RBI single, and center fielder Angel Pagan's throw to third was wild, allowing another run to come home.
Dirks homered in the fifth to make it 5-1.
New York right-hander Manny Acosta left in the eighth with a hyperextended wrist on his throwing arm after making an acrobatic play to field a bunt by Santiago.
NOTES: Dirks, a rookie, has six homers in 92 at_bats. ... Reyes' double was his 213th, passing Edgardo Alfonzo for fourth place on the franchise's career list.
The Associated Press News Service
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