Minnesota's abysmal offense made it tougher on Verlander than expected. Luke Hughes had a home run, a double and three RBIs and Jason Repko put one of Verlander's vaunted fastballs into the upper deck in leftfield for his first homer of the season.
But former Twin Delmon Young's RBI single in the seventh gave the Tigers the lead for good and put Verlander in position for the win.
The six innings pitched tied a season low for Verlander, a 20-game winner for the first time -- and the first time by a Tigers pitcher since Bill Gullickson in 1991.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland has been quoted as saying he doesn't think a pitcher should be eligible to win the MVP award. He tried to clarify his position before the game.
"I want everyone in here to know and please print that I support Justin Verlander for MVP to the hilt," Leyland said. "I want to make that perfectly clear. The question was asked to me if I thought a pitcher should be the MVP and my answer to that is no, I do not. But under the way the system is, I will certainly support Verlander to the hilt as a possible candidate for the MVP."
Pirates 7, Cardinals 0: Rookie Brad Lincoln (1-0) pitched six scoreless innings and had an RBI double and walk as visiting Pittsburgh knocked around Chris Carpenter (8-9).