Practically perfect by Justin Verlander was not enough to salvage matters for an unproductive Astros offense Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park.
Verlander (15-5) allowed only two hits, solo homers by Detroit's Ronny Rodriguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth, and struck out 11 while going the distance, but the Tigers prevailed 2-1.
Houston managed just six hits off four Tigers pitchers, with its only run coming on a seventh-inning home run by catcher Robinson Chirinos.
Chirinos gave the Astros a late chance to get back into the game but was thrown out at third trying to stretch a double into a triple for the game's final out.
It was the seventh consecutive game in which Verlander had double-figure strikeouts. All were swinging, with seven third strikes coming on sliders, three on fastballs and one on a curveball.
Along with the strikeouts, Verlander got eight outs on groundouts, two on infield popups, one on a line drive to first baseman Yuli Gurriel and five on outfield flies.
Verlander retired the Tigers' first 14 batters in order with six strikeouts before allowing his 32nd home run of the year, on a 0-1 fastball to Rodriguez, with two out in the fifth for the game's first run.
He needed just 43 pitches through the first four innings, and made short work of his first encounter against former teammate Miguel Cabrera, whom he had not faced in a Houston uniform prior to Wednesday.
It was, by Las Vegas standards, the most improbable of games. The betting line had gamblers risking $ 5.50 on the Astros to win a dollar, which was described by one oddsmaker as the most one-sided projection in more than a decade for any MLB game.