Tigers stay hot, blank Rangers

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Chris Shelton tripled twice and drove in three runs, rookie Justin Verlander pitched seven innings for his first career win, and the Detroit Tigers remained the American League’s only unbeaten team with a 7-0 victory over the Texas Rangers.

Shelton hit five home runs in his first four games this season. But he didn’t need one to help Detroit get off to its first 5-0 start since 1985.

The first baseman hit a two-run triple in the first to give the Tigers a 4-0 cushion. Shelton, who is hitting .700 after going 3-for-4, added an RBI triple in the third.

Curtis Granderson had a two-run homer in the seventh for Detroit, which has 17 already this season.

That gave Verlander (1-0) all he needed to earn his first win in the big leagues. He allowed only two singles, struck out seven and walked two in his 89 pitches. The 23-year-old right-hander was 0-2 with a 7.15 ERA last season.

Kevin Millwood (0-2) struggled in his second start with Texas. He allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings.

Millwood, who signed a $60 million, five-year deal in the offseason, struck out five without walking a batter.

Texas dropped its fourth straight and is 1-5 for the first time since 2002.

The Rangers didn’t muster a hit off Verlander until Phil Nevin singled with one out in the fourth. Chris Spurling relieved Verlander to start the eighth. Detroit pitchers retired their final 14 batters.

Granderson led off the game with a single and scored on a grounder by Magglio Ordonez. Dmitri Young followed with an RBI single and Shelton’s triple to center gave Detroit a 4-0 lead.

Millwood threw his glove down in disgust when he returned to the dugout. In his first two Texas starts, Millwood has given up nine earned runs in 11 innings.

Verlander looked at ease from the start. He struck out Texas leadoff hitter Brad Wilkerson on three pitches.

The Rangers got consecutive singles from Nevin and Hank Blalock in the fourth, but Verlander ended the threat by striking out Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix.

Verlander retired the final eight batters he faced after allowing a one-out walk to Ian Kinsler in the fifth.

Shelton’s RBI triple in the third made it 5-0. He added a one-out single in the sixth before striking out in the eighth. Granderson’s home run made it 7-0.

Notes: Detroit LHP Kenny Rogers will start against his former club Sunday. He led the Rangers with 14 wins last season but was suspended 13 days following a pre-game confrontation with photographers. … Nix went 0-for-3 and is 0-for-15 this season.

AP-ES-04-08-06 2225EDT

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