DETROIT — The World Series rematch was a mismatch.
Detroit’s Justin Verlander stayed unbeaten in May and Brandon Inge hit a home run to help the Tigers win 6-2 on Sunday, completing a sweep of the defending world champion St. Louis Cardinals.
“You wish we would’ve swung the bats like this in the World Series,” said Detroit’s Sean Casey, who was one of the Tigers’ few offensive standouts during the 4-1 series loss last fall. “You wish it was for all the marbles.
“They’re a different team now and we’re playing pretty well.”
The Tigers, who split the first two games of the World Series here, outscored the Cardinals 28-14 in the weekend series and remained tied with Cleveland for first in the AL Central division. The Cardinals fell 91/2 games behind NL Central leaders Milwaukee and are off to their worst start since manager Tony LaRussa joined the club in 1996.
Verlander (5-1) pitched eight strong innings to hand the Cardinals their fifth straight defeat. He retired 10 straight batters after surrendering Chris Duncan’s solo home run in the fifth.
The right-hander gave up two runs and five hits with three strikeouts.
“My velocity wasn’t there today,” said Verlander, who threw 120 pitches in a 7-2 win at Boston on May 15, “but I was still able to get people out. There’s no such thing as a sophomore jinx. You’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing every time you go out.”
“He’s always good,” the Cardinals Scott Spiezio said. “He’s got great stuff and he mixes it up well and throws to spots. He had a lot of good plays behind him, too.”
Jim Edmonds hit an RBI single in the ninth for St. Louis off reliever Fernando Rodney. Bobby Seay got one out for his first career save.
Brad Thompson (2-1) gave up five runs and five hits in 52/3 innings. Casey highlighted Detroit’s three-run sixth with a two-run double off reliever Tyler Johnson.
The Cardinals finished a 2-7 road trip and have lost six of their past seven.
“It’s definitely a disappointing road trip,” Thompson said. “I hope we get back on track when we get home. We have to start playing better baseball, but I’m confident we can do it. I mean, look around this clubhouse. You’ve got All-Stars and future Hall of Famers.”
Duncan gave the Cardinals their only lead of the series when he hit a home run to straight center in the fifth, but Inge put the Tigers back on top for good in the bottom of the inning with his eighth home run of the season.
Curtis Granderson led off the first with his AL-leading sixth triple and scored the game’s first run on Neifi Perez’s groundout.
It doesn’t get easier for St. Louis. They welcome NL Central leader Milwaukee on Tuesday.
“I don’t care what other teams are doing,” Spiezio said. “We’ve got to take care of ourselves. If we do that, then we’ll be back in the thick of it.”