Justin Verlander's long nightmare continues.
No, not his winless streak. Although that did extend to four starts on Saturday, he won't mind after the Tigers walked away with a 3-2 victory in Cincinnati.
Besides, Verlander pitched fairly well, allowing two runs in six innings. His only problem was the 34 foul balls that Reds hitters managed, driving up Verlander's pitch count.
Verlander's disappointment? He didn't end his career-long hitless streak.
The only player in major league history with two more no-hitters than hits hit a soft line drive to first base in his first at-bat, then laid down a sacrifice bunt the next time up.
"I thought maybe I'd get to swing away, because I put such a good swing on the first one," he told FOX Sports Detroit after the game. "That was almost my first double. Well, my first knock, anyway. No go, though."
Verlander badly missed on his first two attempts at the bunt, but laid a 0-2 pitch down the third-base line. The bunt was good enough that he momentarily had dreams of a bunt single to break his slump.
"I was running hard because I thought it was going to be a tough play," he said. "Then I saw the second baseman catch the ball, and I wondered why I had been running so hard. They don't mess up sacrifice bunts at this level."
Verlander is now 0-for-21 since getting his first at-bat, at Wrigley Field on June 17, 2006. He's struck out in 13 of those at-bats, but he still believes that he's got talent with the stick.
Before Saturday's start, he talked about the danger of hitting a home-run at tiny Great American Ball Park, saying that he needed to be careful about posing too long, since the pitcher might take retaliation against him.
Verlander didn't have to worry about that on Saturday, despite his ambitions. But he's been lobbying to pitch Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field, which would be his normal day to start. That would give him another shot at offensive glory, instead of making his next appearance under AL rules Friday at Comerica Park.
That would involve the Tigers skipping rookie Casey Crosby, and might have gotten less likely when Verlander threw 127 pitches on a hot afternoon. His pitch count was significantly elevated when Delmon Young lost a routine fly ball in the sun, leading to Cincinnati's only two runs.
"Verlander was really terrific, but what you saw from him today was what you saw early in his career," Jim Leyland said. "He spent himself too early.
"When he got through the third inning on six pitches, I thought things were set up perfectly for him. Then the next inning was a disaster with the way they fouled off pitches. Give them credit."
The Reds scored their runs in the fourth inning. With a runner on first, Young botched Joey Votto's fly ball, putting runners on second and third with no one out.
Verlander retired the next two batters, but walked Ryan Ludwick before giving up a two-run single to Todd Frazier on a 101-mph fastball.
"That was tough because I got the two outs, and if I could have gotten out of the inning, we would have kept the momentum," he said. "Still, I gave us a chance to win, and we took it.
"If we're going to be a good team, and I think we are, these are the type of games we have to win. We need to win 2-1 or 3-2, and that's what we did today."