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Tigers, Verlander hand Orioles their 1st loss, 7-3

By David Ginsburg

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 6 2011 9:05 p.m. MDT

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Jones, center, misses a fly ball hit by Detroit Tigers Brennan Boesch as right fielder Nick Markakis backs him up during the second inning of a baseball game Wednesday, April 6, 2011 in Baltimore, Md. Roberts was charged with an error on the play.

Gail Burton, Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Justin Verlander had never lost to Baltimore, and the Orioles hadn't been defeated all season.

Something had to give.

It wasn't Verlander, which means there's now one less unbeaten team in the major leagues.

Alex Avila homered and had a career-high five RBIs, and Verlander allowed four hits over eight innings to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 7-3 victory Wednesday night.

Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez also connected for the Tigers, who became the first team this season to score more than one run against Baltimore.

"It was a good one. Good pitching, timely hitting, we hit a couple over the fence," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Justin did great coming out for that last inning like he did. We got some big hits from Alex and Victor. Overall, good game for us."

Derrek Lee hit his first homer with the Orioles and Vladimir Guerrero got his first RBI. But Baltimore came up short in a bid to match the franchise-record 5-0 start of the 1970 squad that went on to win the World Series.

"It felt good to square up a ball and get it over the fence," Lee said. "But it's kind of a moot point when you lose a game."

The loss left Texas and Cincinnati as the only unbeaten teams in the majors.

Avila, who came in batting .100, doubled in two runs in the fourth inning, hit a two-run homer in the fifth and added an RBI single in the eighth.

"I was more aggressive with my swings, that's for sure," Avila said. "I was able to work the counts better and put some good at-bats together. ... It was a good feeling to get some hits with guys on base."

Verlander (1-0) gave up three runs, struck out nine and walked two. He is 6-0 with a 2.64 ERA in eight career starts against Baltimore, including 4-0 at Camden Yards.

After going 19-9 in 2009 and 18-9 last season, the right-hander couldn't be happier about the start of this season.

"I definitely feel better at this point than I have in the past two years," Verlander said. "Definitely feel like I am throwing the ball better than I did at this point the last couple years."

Baltimore was impressed, too.

"Same thing we've been seeing for a while," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's one of the best pitchers in the game."

Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen (0-1) allowed four runs, two earned, and five hits in 3 2-3 innings. His performance raised the ERA of the starting staff from 0.69 to 1.21.

"It was tough. I just never seemed to get into any type of groove tonight," the right-hander said. "It seemed like I went full count on almost everyone, or deep counts, so that part really hurt."

Bergesen pitched in place of Jeremy Guthrie, who was released from the hospital Wednesday after being treated for a high fever. Guthrie hopes to rejoin the rotation Sunday against Texas.

Baltimore made only one error in its first four games, then committed two in the second inning to provide Detroit with a 2-0 lead. After second baseman Brian Roberts dropped a two-out popup to short right field, Bergesen walked Jhonny Peralta and threw wildly to second on an attempted pickoff. Avila followed with a double off the right-field scoreboard.

Prior to that, the Orioles had not trailed this season.

After Avila's homer made it 4-0 in the fourth, Lee connected in the bottom half following a one-out walk to Nick Markakis.

Cabrera and Martinez homered in succession in the fifth inning off Josh Rupe.

Guerrero made it 6-3 with an RBI single in the sixth, but he was thrown out by Avila trying to advance on the throw to the plate.

NOTES: Attendance was 12,451, a significant drop from the sellout crowd of 46,593 at Baltimore's home opener Monday. ... Orioles LF Luke Scott missed a third straight game with groin tightness. He was available to pinch hit. ... Magglio Ordonez went 2 for 4 to raise his lifetime batting average against Baltimore to .343. ... Lee's homer was his first in the AL. He has 313 career HRs. ... Cabrera was credited with a ninth-inning single when his hard grounder became wedged in the webbing of third baseman Mark Reynolds.

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