CINCINNATI -- Coming up even with Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander left the Cincinnati Reds feeling pretty good about themselves – even though they couldn't close the deal with their bullpen.
The Reds forced the reigning American League MVP and Cy Young Award winner out of the game after six innings before Prince Fielder drove in the tie-breaking run with a two-out single in the eighth to lift the Tigers to a 3-2 victory Saturday.
Cincinnati left six runners on base against Verlander, three in his last inning, which left Reds manager Dusty Baker lamenting the missed opportunities.
"We had him on the ropes a couple of times, but we couldn't come up with the big hit," Baker said.
Brennan Boesch started Detroit's two-out rally against Sean Marshall (1-3) with a double off the wall in center field. After Miguel Cabrera was intentionally walked, Fielder – who hit a solo home run in the fourth – softly lined a single to center and Boesch slid across the plate just ahead of Chris Heisey's strong throw.
Brayan Villareal (2-1) pitched a scoreless seventh inning to earn the win before a crowd of 42,443, the largest non-Opening Day, regular-season crowd in the 10-year history of Great American Ball Park.
Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect eighth and Jose Valverde duplicated the effort in the ninth for his 11th save.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead on two-out solo home runs to right off Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo. Switch-hitting shortstop Ramon Santiago hit his second homer of the season on a 2-1 pitch in the second inning, and Fielder hit his 10th on the first pitch from Arroyo in the fourth.
Santiago's homer, which extended to 55 the number of consecutive games in which at least one home run has been hit at Great American Ball Park, did and didn't surprise Arroyo.
"It was a 2-1 sinker on the outer half," he said. "That happens in this ballpark – or maybe he's stronger than he looks. That's not an easy lineup to pitch to. They have a lot of pop, and since they're an American League team, you don't know to pitch to them."
The Reds tied it in the fourth on Heisey's leadoff single, Joey Votto's drive to left that Delmon Young misplayed into a double and Todd Frazier's two-out single to right.
"His stuff is really good, but when you go up there, you've got to have confidence that you're going to get the job done," Frazier said about Verlander. "I got a little fired up."
Votto extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games (29-for-53, .547), surpassing his 14-game streak in 2009. The streak is the longest by a Red since Brandon Phillips' 15-game streak from May 28 through June 12, 2010.
Neither starter was involved in the decision. Verlander threw 127 pitches, his second-highest total of the season to the 131 he threw on April 16 in a 3-2, complete-game win at Kansas City. He allowed six hits and two runs with three walks and nine strikeouts in six innings. Arroyo went seven innings, giving up five hits and two runs with four strikeouts.
"I'll take a 2-2 tie with Verlander any day," Arroyo said. "Once we tied it up, I figured that was all we'd get, and we were willing to take our chances later in the game."
NOTES: Both teams are 3-2 in interleague play. ... Cincinnati LHP Bill Bray was scheduled to pitch an inning for Single-A Dayton Saturday night and another on Monday during a rehab assignment. Bray has been out since April 24 with a groin injury. ... Detroit activated OF Austin Jackson from the 15-day DL and recalled IF Herman Perez from Single-A Lakeland. The Tigers placed SS Jhonny Peralta on paternity leave and optioned RHP Jose Ortega to Triple-A Toledo. Perez grounded out to third in the eighth inning in his major league debut. ... Reds OF Kristopher Negron drew a seventh-inning walk in his first major league plate appearance.