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Verlander hit hard again; Tigers lose to Rangers 12-4 for 6th loss in 7 games

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DETROIT - Justin Verlander is tinkering away again, trying to figure out how to stop his latest stretch of substandard outings.

"Right now, I'm not in a place where I can repeat my delivery every time, and that's what I need to fix. But I'll get it straightened out. I'm not worried about that," Verlander said.

"It's a rough patch, but this is a great baseball team. That hasn't changed."

Verlander allowed nine runs — six earned — in 5 1-3 innings Sunday, and the Tigers were routed again by the Texas Rangers, 12-4. Detroit has lost six of seven, allowing 57 runs in the process.

Verlander (5-4) endured one of the worst starts of his career while fiddling with his mechanics.

"Early on, I was trying to bring my hands above my head, hoping that it would get to keep me back on the rubber longer," Verlander said. "But it didn't feel comfortable in the first couple innings, so I ditched it. I might work on it in the bullpen again, but it just wasn't right today."

Verlander struggled at times last season too, but he was able to work through his problems and hit his stride late in the season. The problem now for the Tigers is that the rest of their rotation isn't pitching well either. Texas took three of four in the series, scoring 35 runs.

Michael Choice homered for the Rangers in the second inning Sunday, and Texas broke the game open with five runs in the fifth.

Colby Lewis (4-3) allowed two runs and five hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Mitch Moreland had three hits and three RBIs for the Rangers, and Adrian Beltre and Robinson Chirinos had three hits apiece as well.

Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera left the game in the seventh with a right hamstring cramp.

"Miggy said he could stay in, and if this was a crucial game on September 19, I would have left him in the game," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "But we were down 10 in May, so we got him out of there."

Verlander has allowed 16 earned runs in his past three starts, and although the Tigers still have the best record in the American League, they have to wonder when this alarming stretch of poor pitching will end.

The nine runs allowed by Verlander equaled a career worst, and he allowed 11 hits. Verlander finished with only one strikeout, his fewest in a regular-season game since May 31, 2008, when he also struck out one at Seattle.

Even without injured slugger Prince Fielder, the Rangers romped through Motown, scoring at least nine runs in all three of their victories in this series.

"We've got to continue to play baseball," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "We miss Prince, and we're not going to even dream that we don't need him in our lineup. We certainly would like to have him in our lineup, but we don't, so we've got to go with what we've got."

Fielder is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a neck problem.

Texas led 3-2 in the fifth when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a walk and went to third when Elvis Andrus' grounder went past shortstop Andrew Romine for an error. Moreland and Beltre followed with consecutive RBI singles, and a two-run triple by Alex Rios made it 7-2.

Chirinos singled home Rios two outs later.

Cabrera came out of the game after singling in the bottom of the seventh, and to make matters worse for Detroit, reliever Joba Chamberlain left in the eighth with a right ankle contusion. Neither injury appears serious.

NOTES: The family of former Tigers OF Bill Bruton was on hand to receive the Detroit Tigers' African-American Legacy Award on his behalf. He was honoured posthumously. ... Sunday's time of game was the same as the day before: 3 hours, 43 minutes. ... Choo, who left Saturday's game with a sore left ankle, was back in the Texas lineup a day later but as the designated hitter. ... Detroit 2B Ian Kinsler extended his hitting streak to 11 games. ... The Tigers head to Oakland for a four-game series between the teams with the two best records in the AL. Detroit LHP Drew Smyly (2-2) faces Oakland LHP Tommy Milone (2-3) on Monday. ... Texas heads to Minnesota, with RHP Nick Tepesch (1-0) taking the mound Monday against Twins RHP Kevin Correia (2-5).

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