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DET@CLE: Verlander fans six to notch win No. 14

These days, the Tigers are hanging on for dear life in the American League Central race. Every pitch, every out, every inning could swing their fate one way or the other.

Though he doesn't enjoy his club's three-game deficit, Detroit ace Justin Verlander, who takes the mound Wednesday against Oakland in the second game of a three-game set, loves that kind of pressure.

"What I'm hoping is, coming down this stretch run, we know that every game's a must-win," Verlander said after his last start. "Maybe that will kick-start us a little bit into knowing that every game is a pressure game."

Though they have a bit of a cushion, the games are just as meaningful for the Wild Card-leading A's, who send left-hander Brett Anderson to the hill on Wednesday.

Anderson (4-1, 1.93 ERA) made his return from Tommy John surgery last month and he's been solid since, pounding the strike zone to the tune of 24 strikeouts and just four walks.

But he struggled his last time out -- his first poor outing this season. Anderson surrendered five runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Angels.

Verlander (14-8, 2.82 ERA), on the other hand, was brilliant in his last start, tossing seven shutout innings in Cleveland.

Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera continued his tear against the A's on Tuesday, going 3-for-4 with two homers and six RBIs. He's among the league leaders in all three major offensive categories and even has an outside shot at winning the triple crown, though he'd need a bit of a power surge to do so.

A's: Crisp fighting pink eye
• Despite not being fully recovered from a case of pink eye, A's outfielder Coco Crisp returned to the starting lineup Tuesday, though he was removed in the fourth inning.

He went 0-for-2 in the series opener in Detroit after he traveled there separately to avoid possibly spreading the infection. Crisp also wore protective glasses in the clubhouse.

"He's going to do everything he can to play," manager Bob Melvin said before the game. "From what I understand, it's an inconvenience and it's somewhat bothersome, but we certainly wouldn't put him in a position at where he was at risk."

Tigers: Avila sits two straight
• Tigers catcher Alex Avila missed his second consecutive game on Tuesday after he took an elbow from first baseman Prince Fielder in a collision on Sunday.

Avila passed a concussion test Sunday night, but he experienced headaches on Monday in Chicago. Manager Jim Leyland didn't seem to think Avila would be out long.

"I planned on playing Alex today," Leyland said before Tuesday's game. "But I got here and found out he wasn't available."

Worth noting
• In 22 at-bats against Verlander, Crisp is hitting .364. He is the only Oakland player other than Josh Reddick (2-for-7) hitting above .200 against the Tigers' ace.

• The A's would need to win the next two games in order to take the season series against Detroit, which they haven't done since winning six of nine in 2008.

• The Tigers have won 27 of their last 35 games at home dating back to July 4. Comments