Valverde consistently slams the door

Valverde consistently slams the door

DETROIT -- The streak is over for Jose Valverde. The Tigers closer hadn't allowed a run in his previous 25 outings entering Sunday and owned an American League leading 0.34 ERA.

Valverde entered Sunday's game in the ninth inning with a two-run cushion after Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera's three-homer in the eighth inning. But he gave up a leadoff double to Ryan Doumit, who eventually came around to score end Valverde's scoreless streak.

Fortunately, the run didn't cost the Tigers the game. Instead, Valverde earned his 13th save of the season, good for eighth in the AL.

"They finally broke his scoreless streak, but that's alright," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He's been absolutely fantastic. Up to this point, he's been one of the better ones in baseball."

Leyland has called upon Valverde late in the game, when Detroit simply needs to get through an inning unscathed. Such was the case in Saturday's 4-3 win, when he entered the game in the ninth inning and completely overpowered the Pirates' batters, striking out all three he faced.

"Any team that wants to win, you have to be able to have a guy that comes in at the end of the game and just shuts the door," starting pitcher Justin Verlander said. "He's been able to do that pretty much each and every time he's been asked. Even in situations where he's not asked to get a save, he still comes in and just shuts the door."

Although Valverde surrendered a run on Sunday, the Tigers still have the utmost confidence in their closer.

"You can't get by without a great closer," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "He seems to be one of the best out there. I've been on teams where they've had closer-by-committee, and that doesn't work. He wants the ball. He wants to go out there and pitch. That's great.

"He's a guy that can put [hitters] in a funk and start making you think a bunch of negative things up at the plate."