DETROIT, Mich. (Detroit Free Press) -- Justin Verlander, the Detroit Tigers' former Cy Young and MVP winner, is still trying to find his way this season.
Wednesday was a step in the right direction for the right-hander.
After giving up two home runs in the first inning, Verlander pitched out of enough jams to even his record to 7-7 and lower his ERA to 4.71 in the Tigers' 9-3 victory and three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park, the first time they've done that since May 2009.
"He didn't have a good flow to him early on," manager Brad Ausmus said of Verlander. "Certainly, once he got past that first inning, he was a lot better. His velocity picked up quite a bit."
The Tigers (47-34) scored six runs in the sixth inning to break the game open, finishing the halfway point of the season 13 games above .500.
Before the announced crowd of 35,445 could get comfortable, the Tigers were behind 1-0 on a homer by leadoff hitter Coco Crisp, his seventh of the season.
With two outs, Brandon Moss reached the seats in right-centerfield to give the A's a 2-0 lead.
Two homers, two strikeouts and a two-run deficit.
"Like the rest of our pitchers, he's going to compete," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "When he gives up runs he's going to continue to go out there and compete."
Austin Jackson broke out of an 0-for-19 slump with three hits, and Torii Hunter added three hits to pace the offense.
"We moved him into the leadoff spot to try to get him going and he'll be back at leadoff tomorrow," Ausmus said of Jackson. "He previous years he has had success there.''
The Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the first inning on an RBI single by Hunter.
"I made a little adjustment at the plate maybe five days ago," Hunter said. "I've been hitting the ball hard. Today I was able to get some balls through, but I've been hitting the ball. A lot of people are result-driven; they want to see the 3-for-3."
Verlander survived a rough third inning in which he gave up four singles, one an infield hit, but didn't allow a run.
Hunter tied the game with his second RBI single, scoring Jackson, who led off the third with a double.
"When I'm at the top of the order I'm just trying to get on base and make something happen," Jackson said.
Jackson gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead in the fourth on a two-out single, scoring Andrew Romine.
"He had some good at-bats in Houston," Hunter said of Jackson. "That last game was tough for him, but he has been hitting the ball pretty good. Today he had a short stroke going and hit some good pitches, low and down and away. He was able to drive them through the holes."
Verlander retired the side in the fifth as his pitch count reached 87.
The Tigers' coaching staff put the shift on Moss in the sixth, but it didn't work as the rightfielder led off with a double between Jackson and J.D. Martinez.
Derek Norris followed with a dribbler that was an infield single by the time third baseman Nick Castellanos corralled it.
With lefty Blaine Hardy warming up in the bullpen, Verlander got Stephen Vogt to pop out to Kinsler and induced a shallow fly ball to Jackson that Moss couldn't score on.
Verlander hit Nate Freiman to load the bases before Nick Punto flied to Martinez to end the threat.
The bottom of the order came through for Verlander in the sixth on a two-run single by Rajai Davis, the ninth hitter in the order. Kinsler shattered his bat, but drove in a run with a single to make it 6-2.
Miguel Cabrera followed with a two-run double to make it 8-2.