Verlander, Tigers silence Braves' bats again in win

'Yer outta here: Braves' manager Bobby Cox lost his cool again, and was ejected for a record-tying 131st time (as a manager and player) in the ninth inning for coming on to the field after catcher Brian McCann was tossed arguing a called third strike.

Valiant Verlander: The Tigers ace struck out 11 in his seven innings of work, and didn't allow a runner past second base after the fourth inning en route to his fourth straight victory.

Chipping away: With his solo homer in the fourth, Chipper Jones now has 370 career homers, one behind Dale Murphy's Atlanta record.

Quotable: "He was the only catcher I had left." -- Bobby Cox on his ejection after running on to the field in an attempt to save McCann from being tossed.

-- ESPN.com news services

Tigers 2 , Braves 1

ATLANTA (AP) -- Braves manager Bobby Cox tried to protect his catcher in the ninth inning and left with a record-tying ejection.

He couldn't protect his team from Justin Verlander, either.

Verlander pitched seven innings to win his fourth straight start and the Detroit Tigers beat light-hitting Atlanta 2-1 Saturday.

Cox was thrown out of the game in the ninth by plate umpire Chad Fairchild. Cox's ejection gave him 131 for his career, tying the record set by John McGraw.

Cox came on the field too late to save Brian McCann from being tossed for arguing a called third strike from Todd Jones, who got three outs to earn his 18th save in 22 chances.

"He was the only catcher I had left," Cox said.

Cox already has the record for most ejections by a manager, since 14 of McGraw's came as a player.

McCann said the pitch was low but Cox said Fairchild was calling it that way all game.

"You can't really complain about it," Cox said. "You get some and not some, which is all right. It was that way for both sides. Nobody's going to hit Verlander much, I can tell you."

Verlander (9-2) gave up a fourth-inning homer to Chipper Jones but did not allow another baserunner past second. Verlander, who set a season high with 12 strikeouts when he no-hit Milwaukee on June 12, struck out 11 while giving up only four hits and two walks.

"All I can tell you is I'm glad he's on our team," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a special talent. I think he's one of the premier pitchers in the league, not just young pitchers."

Verlander said he enjoyed his first game in Atlanta, where the temperature was 95 degrees for the first pitch.

"It was hot, pretty toasty out there," Verlander said.

"There were times I felt a little tired. It's nice to be able to get loose real easily."

Verlander mixed breaking pitches with fastballs approaching 100 mph.

"My god, that guy's throwing 100 miles an hour in the sixth inning," Chipper Jones said. "You're not going to mount much against him. It's really tough for the best hitters in baseball to put that in play consistently."

Carlos Guillen homered for the Tigers, who have won six straight games.

The Braves (38-37) have lost four straight and eight of 11 to fall to only one game over .500 for the first time since winning their season opener.

The Tigers, who won a season-best eight straight games from April 29 through May 8, have constructed their current winning streak on the road. The Tigers lead the major leagues with 26 road wins.

"We're a pretty good team," Leyland said.

The Braves already have faced Boston, Cleveland and Minnesota in interleague play, but Cox said the Tigers may be the best of all.

"Of all the teams we've faced, those guys might have the best overall team," Cox said. "They're a really solid team and I think their starting rotation will prove to be the best in their league."

The Braves, who began the day with their first streak of three straight shutout losses since 1988, snapped a string of 31 consecutive scoreless innings when Jones led off the fourth with his 13th homer.

Jones, who struck out looking in the first inning, hit a 3-2 pitch from Verlander over the wall in left-center.

Atlanta's Kyle Davies (3-7) gave up three hits and two runs in 6 1/3 innings before leaving with a strained left oblique.

Davies slipped when fielding a short grounder hit by Magglio Ordonez in the sixth inning. He left after trainer Jeff Porter came to the mound with one out in the seventh.

"It's just a cramp," Davies said, adding he expected to make his next start. "It started cramping up in the fifth inning. ... I didn't want to push it."

Davies threw 36 pitches in the second inning. He walked two batters and hit Ivan Rodriguez with a pitch. Sean Casey's single, the only hit of the inning, drove in Guillen. Davies struck out Curtis Granderson on a 3-2 pitch with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Guillen led off the fourth with his 12th homer to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Davies then retired nine of the next 10 batters.

Cox juggled the top of his batting order. Willie Harris hit leadoff for only the second time this season, while Kelly Johnson moved down one spot. Slumping Andruw Jones hit seventh for the first time this season and was 0-for-2 with two walks, dropping his batting average to .198.

The shuffled lineup didn't stop one of Atlanta's stars from criticizing one of its top pitchers. Chipper Jones said he felt pressured by right-hander John Smoltz to return from a groin injury.

After Friday night's 5-0 loss to the Tigers, Smoltz said: "You can't worry about who's in the lineup and who isn't. You can't worry about that stuff anymore."

Smoltz didn't identify Jones as a player not in the lineup, but after Saturday's game Jones said he got the message.

"I'd be stupid if I didn't take it the same way," Jones said, adding he planned to "play the rest of the games this year and do whatever I can. Somebody I know better not miss a start."

Smoltz, asked Saturday if he was referring to Jones, said: "I have no comment. I'm not even going to address that."

Game notes
Guillen had two hits, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. ... Chipper Jones has 370 career homers, one behind Dale Murphy's Atlanta record.. ... Jones' homer was the seventh allowed by Verlander but the first in his four starts in June.

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