DETROIT -- Alfredo Simon threw aside his summer struggles with a one-hitter for his first career shutout, delivering the Tigers their first three-game winning streak since June with a 4-0 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night at Comerica Park.
Simon (11-7) had given up 47 earned runs on 75 hits in 51 2/3 innings over his previous 10 starts, nullifying a first half that had earned him All-Star consideration. He looked more like the early-season Simon on Thursday.
"It's been tough the last couple of games," Simon said. "Tonight, I throw a shutout. I just want to get back to the point I was before, early in the year."
Simon held Texas to a fifth-inning double by Rougned Odor and walks to Will Venable in the fifth inning and Shin-Soo Choo in the sixth. None of them reached third base, and Simon settled down to retire the next eight batters he faced, putting him in position for his first complete game.
"What I really liked was kind of the pace of his game today," manager Brad Ausmus said. "He got the ball, got on the mound, got his next pitch. With less dead time, the defense is more into it, in theory. I just thought it was the best game he's thrown -- both the results, and his mound presence."
Simon's stinginess allowed the Tigers to stand on single runs they drew out of bases-loaded situations in the first and third innings. Nick Castellanos converted them with a two-out single and sac fly, respectively, before Ian Kinsler tripled and scored in the fifth to complete the damage off Texas starter Martin Perez (1-3).
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Not so royal: In his first game at Comerica Park since being traded to Texas in November 2013, Rangers first baseman struggled to an 0-for-4 night. Greeted by a chorus of boos before each at-bat, Fielder grounded in a 3-6-3 double play to end the sixth and lined out in the ninth.
"When we did barrel it, it was hit right at somebody," said Rangers manager Jeff Banister. "We get a couple of those balls fall in, it might be a different story." More >
V-Mart handles first: After sitting the previous two games with no designated hitter available, Victor Martinez gave Miguel Cabrera a day off at first base and didn't lose a step. His diving stop corralled a Mitch Moreland grounder that left the bat at 105 mph according to Statcast™, keeping the Rangers hitless to begin the fifth inning.
"I just threw the glove and I think that ball caught my glove," Martinez said. "But anything you do to help your team win is always gonna feel good." More >
Simon says sit down: The closest Simon came to trouble was the fifth inning, when Venable followed Odor's double with a two-out walk to put the potential tying run on base for Chris Gimenez. Simon settled down to overpower him with a 94 mph fastball for the strikeout to end the threat. More >
"When a guy pitches a game like that, you don't like it. It doesn't feel good. It still felt good even after all the traffic and limited damage and you look up at one point we were only three runs down. This is a ballclub that we know we can come back. We just couldn't get anything going." -- Banister, on facing Simon
"We're chipping away, but there's a lot of chipping to go." -- Ausmus, on the Tigers' four-game deficit in the AL Wild Card chase
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Tigers have won three games in a row for the first time since June 21-23.
In the sixth inning, Banister challenged whether Kinsler had been pulled off the bag while attempting to turn a 3-6-3 double play. Second-base umpire Vic Carapazza had ruled Kinsler's foot stayed on the bag while catching Martinez's relay from first, and a two-minute, four-second review confirmed the call.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: Right-hander Colby Lewis (13-5, 4.49 ERA), who has recorded quality starts in six of his last seven outings, takes the hill for Texas in a 6:08 p.m. CT start. Lewis is seeking his 14th win of the season, which would match a career-high.
Tigers:Justin Verlander (1-5, 4.11) will try to continue a stretch that has seen him toss 36 innings with a 1.75 ERA over his last five starts, including his last 14 innings without an earned run allowed. He's 8-4 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 career regular-season meetings with the Rangers. The game is scheduled for a 7:08 p.m. ET start.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast. Alejandro Zúñiga is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByAZuniga. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.