Detroit Tigers left fielder Rajai Davis celebrates with teammates after their 9-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — Torii Hunter hit three RBI singles and capped a six-run burst in the sixth inning that sent the Detroit Tigers over the Oakland Athletics 9-3 Wednesday for a three-game sweep.
The three-time AL Central champion Tigers won for the 11th time in 13 games. The division leaders reached the halfway mark with a 47-34 mark.
Oakland still has the best record in the majors despite its stumble at Comerica Park.
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Justin Verlander (7-7) won for the first time since May 30. He looked like he might be in trouble when Coco Crisp and Brandon Moss hit long homers off him in the first inning, but left after the sixth with a 9-2 lead.
Jesse Chavez (6-5) struggled for the second straight start, giving up five runs in five-plus innings. Reliever Jim Johnson replaced him and allowed four runs while only getting one out.
Hunter, who turns 39 on July 18, came into the game hitting .185 in his last 32 games and has struggled badly in right field. With a day game after a night game and Victor Martinez still sidelined, Tigers manager Brad Ausmus gave Hunter his first game at designated hitter since August 2012.
Hunter's first RBI single pulled the Tigers within 2-1 in the first, and he tied it with another hit in the third.
Austin Jackson put Detroit ahead with a run-scoring single in the fourth.
Verlander got into trouble in the sixth. Moss led off with a double — his third of four hits — and took third on Derek Norris' infield single. Verlander retired Stephen Vogt and Jed Lowrie on popups, but hit Nate Freiman with his 100th pitch of the game to load the bases.
Verlander got ahead 0-2 on Nick Punto, hitting 96 mph on the second pitch, and then induced a fly ball to shallow right with an 87 mph slider.
The Tigers immediately broke the game open, with Rajai Davis bouncing a two-run single through a drawn-in infield. Davis, who played for Oakland from 2008-10, started Oakland's rough series by hitting a game-ending grand slam to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory on Monday.
Oakland's day kept getting worse as Johnson broke Ian Kinsler's bat with a nasty sinker, only to see the ball dribble down the third-base line for an infield single that scored a run. Miguel Cabrera followed with a two-run double into the left-field corner, making it 8-2.
Before the inning was over, Hunter had another RBI single of the game, giving Detroit a seven-run lead.
By that point, the only suspense was whether Moss could get his cycle. Needing a triple, he hit an RBI single for his fourth hit of the game in the seventh and never got back to the plate.
NOTES: Martinez sat out with soreness in his side, but Ausmus said it was purely precautionary and that he should be back at DH on Thursday. ... DH Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) and C Norris (back) both returned to the lineup for Oakland. ... The A's return home for a series with Toronto, with Sonny Gray (7-3) scheduled to face R.A. Dickey (6-7). ... Detroit remains home for a four-game weekend series with Tampa Bay. Max Scherzer (9-3) is scheduled to pitch the opener against Erik Bedard (4-5).