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Tigers fall to Astros, 6-3

AP Photo Detroit pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (27) waits for the ball as Houston’s Alex Bregman rounds third base after his two-run home run in the fourth inning Thursday.

HOUSTON (AP) — A day after failing to back a gem by ace Justin Verlander, Alex Bregman and the Houston Astros were determined to convert on another from Gerrit Cole.

Cole struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings, Bregman homered and the Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 6-3 Thursday night. After the Tigers stunned Houston in a 2-1 win Wednesday despite Verlander’s complete-game two-hitter, the Astros gave Cole more than enough run support.

Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a fourth-inning double, and Bregman followed with a lined shot to the first row of the left field Crawford Boxes for his 31st homer.

“He set the tone,” Bregman said of Cole. “He came out dominant and was striking a lot of guys out so we knew we had to get him some runs, especially based on the fact that Verlander did the same thing yesterday, and we didn’t give him any run support.”

Cole (15-5) pitched two-hit ball and allowed one walk over 94 pitches. He’s 11-0 with a 1.84 ERA in his past 15 starts and has 238 strikeouts this season, one shy of teammate and league leader Verlander.

Cole returned for his first start since Aug. 7 after dealing with right hamstring discomfort. He showed no signs of rust, retiring 16 of his final 17 batters.

“There was no governor on him, he was letting it go and pitching very effectively,” Astros manager AJ Hinch said. “I was very impressed with how he approached the game from the very beginning. He was going to set a great tone for us after a tough loss. Comes out and punches out a bunch of guys and commands the game.”

Brantley finished with three hits, including a two-run single in the seventh. He leads the majors with a .338 batting average.

Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann (1-9) allowed three hits and two runs while striking out four in five innings.

Houston went up 3-0 in the sixth on Yordan Alvarez’s RBI-double. Yuli Gurriel also added an RBI single in the seventh to put the Astros up 6-0.

In the ninth, John Hicks hit a two-run homer — much less dramatic than his go-ahead solo shot off Verlander the night before — and Niko Goodrum added a solo homer off reliever Joe Biagini.

Representing the tying run, Dawel Lugo’s deep shot to right field was caught by Josh Reddick at the wall for the final out. Roberto Osuna earned his 30th save of the season.

“I thought it was a homer,” Lugo said. “I was waiting for that pitch. I was waiting on the fastball. He threw the fastball, I hit the fastball, but unfortunately, it wasn’t gone.”

The Tigers suffered their fifth loss in six games.

“We put some swings out there. Hicks steps up and bangs one,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. “There’s some good at-bats right there at the end. We got their closer in. Unfortunately, Lugo just didn’t get enough of it. He put it to the wall, almost out of the ballpark, which would have been really entertaining.”

Tigers RHP Drew VerHagen (3-2, 6.67 ERA) makes his fourth start of the season today in Detroit’s series opener at Minnesota.