Verlander, V-Mart propel Tigers past Astros

Verlander, V-Mart propel Tigers past Astros

Verlander, V-Mart propel Tigers past Astros
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Justin Verlander threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings and Victor Martinez and Andy Dirks each drove in two runs to lead the Detroit Tigers past the Astros, 5-0, in Grapefruit League play Saturday afternoon at Osceola County Stadium.

Verlander, making his second start of the spring, struck out three batters and allowed three hits before being removed from the game when he hit his limit of 55 pitches. He allowed singles in the first, second and fourth innings, and retired the Astros in order in the third inning.

Martinez ripped a two-out, two-run double to left field in the fourth to score Will Rhymes and Brandon Inge, and Dirks hit a two-out, two-run triple to right field in the sixth to score Ryan Strieby and Jhonny Peralta to make it 4-0.

Astros starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, roughed up in his first outing of the spring, gave up three hits and two runs in three innings. He coasted through 2 2/3 innings before the Tigers rallied for a pair of runs. He gave up a two-out single to Rhymes, walked Inge, and watched Martinez send both home with his double.

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"I threw a lot of balls [the other day] and today I concentrated on throwing a lot of strikes," Rodriguez said.

Andy Oliver pitched two innings in relief, retiring all six batters he faced in order in the sixth and seventh innings. Oliver struck out Clint Barmes, Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee -- the heart of the Astros' batting order -- swinging in the sixth.

Up next for the Tigers: After split-squad road games Saturday, the Tigers reunite at Joker Marchant Stadium on Sunday behind Phil Coke in his third spring start, against the Phillies at 1:05 p.m. ET. Duane Below, Ryan Perry, Jose Valverde, Lester Oliveros and Brad Thomas are also slated to pitch for Detroit opposite Philadelphia starter Kyle Kendrick. The game will be broadcast on Gameday Audio and over the air in Detroit on 97.1 FM and AM 1270.

Up next for the Astros: The New York Yankees make their only visit of the spring to Osceola County Stadium at 12:05 p.m. CT on Sunday. Brett Myers, who's expected to be the Astros' Opening Day starter, will make his second start of the spring after throwing two scoreless innings Tuesday against the Braves. Also scheduled to pitch for the Astros: Brandon Lyon, Jeff Fulchino, Fernando Abad, Mark Melancon, Lance Pendleton, Wesley Wright and Aneury Rodriguez.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.