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Cabrera extends hitting streak but loses AL homer lead

The Sports Xchange

--3B Miguel Cabrera added another game to his hitting streak Monday night, singling to left in the sixth inning to make it 14 games in a row in which he has at least one hit. Cabrera went 1-for-4 on the night, keeping his average at .331. Angels CF Mike Trout stands second in the league at .323. Cabrera lost his share of the AL home run lead when Texas CF Josh Hamilton hit his 43rd of the season. Cabrera still has a nine-RBI lead over Hamilton, who is second in the league in that category.

--1B Prince Fielder led off the second inning with his 28th home run of the season. Fielder, who also singled in the eighth, has done just what Detroit acquired him to do -- protect 3B Miguel Cabrera in the lineup. Hitting third, one spot ahead of Fielder, Cabrera credits the cleanup hitter with getting him better pitches to hit.

--RHP Jose Valverde, who took the loss in Sunday's second game, came in Monday night to close out Detroit's 6-2 victory over Kansas City. Valverde did not get credit for a save due to the four-run lead, but he retired three in a row, including the last two on strikeouts. He received some scattered boos when he entered the game.

--C Alex Avila might have gotten some benefit from missing four games last week due to mild concussion symptoms. His swing looks quicker, and he's getting more movement from his lower body when he swings. Avila went down for a low pitch in the second inning and rifled it off the wall in right center for an RBI double.

--RF Andy Dirks got credit from manager Jim Leyland for "a good piece of hitting on that sacrifice fly" in the sixth inning. Dirks has been shifting between left and right depending upon whether LF Quintin Berry (vs. right-handers) or RF Avisail Garcia (vs. lefties) starts. He added two singles to his sacrifice fly Monday night, the second driving in an eighth-inning run. His sacrifice fly with runners on first and third and one out in the sixth boosted Detroit's lead to 5-1.

--CF Austin Jackson is a focal point of the Detroit offense. He had three hits Monday night, the second driving in one run, with a second run scoring on a subsequent error on the throw. Jackson's first at-bat resulted in a single that lifted his batting average back above .300 after it had dropped below that figure Sunday for the first time all year. He has 64 RBI, good for a leadoff man, and his batting average stood at .303 at game's end.

--RHP Justin Verlander pumped up his fastball to 99 and 100 mph in the fifth inning Monday night to get out of a jam and preserve a 2-1 Detroit lead over Kansas City. The Tigers went on to win 6-2, and Verlander got his 16th victory. After surviving a scare involving what he called a jammed left shoulder in the fifth, Verlander struck out the next two hitters to escape a first-and-third, one-out threat. "Those two strikeouts were big for us -- not for me," Verlander said. Manager Jim Leyland added, ""That was a pretty tough situation to get out of. Still, (100 mph fastballs), that was a little early for that."

11 -- Three-hit games this season by CF Austin Jackson. He had three hits Monday, pushing his batting average to .303 after it had dipped below .300 for the first time this season on Sunday.

"You can't get uptight. This is a fun game. It's not like every game is a must-win game." -- RHP Justin Verlander, after he helped Detroit remain one game behind Chicago in the AL Central, allowing two runs and striking out eight Monday in a 6-2 victory over Kansas City.

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