Victor Martinez homered and Detroit ace Justin Verlander limited New York to four hits in six innings to help the Tigers beat the Mets 4-3 on Friday night for their ninth victory in their last 10 games.
Verlander (12-6) allowed only two runs and struck out nine, but the Mets ran his pitch count up to 103 to force him out of the game. Three relievers finished, with Francisco Rodriguez pitching the ninth for his 31st save.
James Loney drove in a ninth-inning run with a groundout, and Rodriguez retired Kelly Johnson to end the game. Johnson homered in the fourth for the Mets. They have lost four straight.
Noah Syndergaard (9-6) also ran into pitch-count trouble, needing 112 to get through his six innings. He gave up four runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out seven.
The Tigers took advantage of Syndergaard's weakness holding runners in the first. Ian Kinsler led off with a single, stole second and third and scored on Miguel Cabrera's groundout. Opponents are 32 of 36 on steal attempts in Syndergaard's 22 starts this season.
Verlander was cruising until he walked Jay Bruce on a 3-2 pitch in the fourth. He retired Loney for the second out of the inning, but Johnson hit his second homer in two nights to give the Mets a 2-1 lead.
Martinez got the lead back in the bottom of the inning, lining Syndergaard's changeup deep into the right-field stands for a two-run homer. James McCann added an RBI single in the inning to make it 4-2.
Mets: OF Yoenis Cespedes (quadriceps) is on the disabled list, costing him his first visit back to Detroit since he was traded at last year's deadline. Cespedes was popular with Tigers fans.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann's MRI showed no damage to the lat muscle that bothered him in Thursday's poor start. Zimmermann will throw a bullpen session on Sunday before the Tigers decide if he will make his next start. .... CF Cameron Maybin sat out his second straight game with a bruised thumb.
The Mets have the best interleague record (.518) of any National League team since games began in 1996, but the Tigers are significantly better at .546. Since 2006, the Tigers are second in the majors at .620 (124-76).
The teams play the second game in their weekend series Saturday evening, with Matt Boyd (2-2, 4.71) facing New York's Logan Verrett (3-6, 4.20). Boyd will be making his first interleague start, while Verrett made his first on Monday, getting a no-decision against the Yankees.