DETROIT — Alex Avila and Torii Hunter hit homers in a five-run second inning and the Detroit Tigers scored five more runs in the fourth inning of an 11-1 rout of the Washington Nationals on Wednesday.
The AL Central-leading Tigers took the two-game series. They have won five straight and nine of 10 to move 16 games over .500 for the first time this season, but they're not in the mood to celebrate. Miguel Cabrera was out of the lineup, a day after aggravating an injury, and Jhonny Peralta was in it perhaps for the last time in a long time.
Justin Verlander (11-8) shook off a shaky start by giving up one run, four hits and five walks while striking out six over six innings.
Gio Gonzalez (7-4) gave up 10 runs – one short of his career high – and 11 hits – the most of his career – over 3 1-3 innings. He entered the game with 4-0 record and a 2.06 ERA in his 10 starts since his last loss on May 27.
Cabrera, an All-Star third baseman, appeared to be in pain in the fifth inning of Tuesday's game after trying to field a slow-rolling grounder. He stayed in that game, but missed the next one because of a strained lower abdomen, which is related to the hip injury that kept him out of four games last week. The reigning Triple Crown winner is easily leading the major leagues with a .359 batting average, he was tied through Tuesday's games with Baltimore's Chris Davis with a baseball-high 99 RBIs and his 32 homers trail only Davis' total.
Peralta doubled in a game that might be his last until late September. The All-Star shortstop insisted before the game he didn't not know whether Major League Baseball planned to suspend him for his role in the Biogenesis case.
If Peralta is suspended 50 games for first offense under baseball's drug program, he would lose $1,639,344 of his $6 million salary. Barring rescheduled games, he would not be eligible to play until Sept. 24, leaving him with just five games of the regular season. He would be eligible Sept. 14 for an injury rehab assignment – if any of Detroit's minor league teams remain in their playoffs.
Peralta declined to say if he would appeal a suspension.
Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said the team protected itself against a suspension by acquiring slick-fielding infielder Jose Iglesias from Boston in a three-team trade Tuesday night.
NOTES: Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty, a Detroit native, has been released from a hospital after being treated for an irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure and is expected to rejoin the team Monday. ... The Tigers are off Thursday before starting a series Friday night at home against the Chicago White Sox.