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Tigers' Verlander wins 20th game

Justin Verlander became the majors' first 20-game winner, grinding through six innings in the visiting Detroit Tigers' 6-4 victory over the Minnesota Twins Saturday.

Verlander (20-5) gave up four runs and eight hits with six strikeouts and three walks to become the first pitcher to win 20 games before the end of August since Arizona's Curt Schilling in 2002.

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.

Verlander left after giving up the second single of the day to .170-hitting Drew Butera in the seventh. Jose Valverde picked up his 39th save.

Alex Avila and Miguel Cabrera hit solo homers for the Tigers in the second inning off Carl Pavano (6-11).

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."

Rays 6, Blue Jays 5: After barely missing a home run earlier, B.J. Upton hit a three-run shot in the seventh inning that broke open the game for visiting Tampa Bay.

Jeff Niemann (9-5) won for the fifth time in six starts for the Rays, who are an AL-best 19-9 since July 28. The Rays are seven games behind the second-place Yankees in the AL East.

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).

Josh Harrison had three singles and three RBIs, Garrett Jones also had three hits, including two doubles, and Neil Walker homered for the Pirates.

-- AP

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