Casey McGehee and Craig Counsell hit solo home runs in a losing effort, but Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder combined for a rare 0-for-8 as Detroit finished a three-game sweep of Milwaukee.
"That's just the game of baseball. You can lose a game on one pitch," said Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo, referring to a costly hanging slider to Inge. "That's what happened today."
Gallardo (7-4) was in cruise control entering the sixth, having allowed no runs and only three Tigers hits, all singles. Miguel Cabrera and Don Kelly singled to set up a two-out showdown between Gallardo and Inge, who was 1-for-6 in the first two games of the series, walked and grounded out in his first two cracks at Gallardo.
Inge saw three consecutive sliders. He swung through the first and looked at the second to pull even at 1-1. Inge connected on the third for a home run to the left-field seats.
"It stinks. I made one mistake the whole game, and it cost us the game," Gallardo said. "I felt pretty good out there. Just that one pitch up in the zone. He took advantage of it. It stinks. That's the only way I can explain it."
Gallardo was charged with those three runs on six hits in seven innings. Verlander (8-3), who no-hit the Brewers on June 12, 2007, was better, holding the damage to two runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings. Both starters struck out eight.
"Nice start by 'Yo,'" Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "That's as good a start as we've had in quite a while."
Gallardo had been limited to five innings in each of his past two starts, throwing a whopping 221 pitches in just 10 innings in those games. He was much more efficient on Sunday, when he needed 107 pitches, including 68 strikes, for seven innings.
"He pitched really well today," Counsell said. "I think that in his last couple starts, he was just a tad off. Today, he was really down in the zone with everything."
So was Verlander, though he wasn't perfect this time. He recorded only one out before he lost his no-hitter to McGehee, who connected on a first-pitch fastball to become the first right-handed hitter to homer against Verlander this season. In the eighth, Counsell also connected on a first-pitch fastball for his second home run this year.
"He's a guy you don't want to be looking at an 0-and-2 count," McGehee said. "You try to be aggressive and get a good ball to hit early, see what happens, so he can't get to his other stuff. You try to eliminate as many as he can. He is who he is because he's got good stuff."
Macha last saw Verlander when Macha's A's met Verlander and the Tigers in the 2006 American League Championship Series. Verlander took the win in Game 2 of that series, despite allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings.
"He's throwing changeups now, and he threw a slider," Macha said. "When I saw him back in '06, it was fastball, curve. He's enlarged his repertoire. That's what makes guys good."
Verlander's outing on Sunday was not comparable to his gem against the Brewers on June 12, 2007, when he was hitting triple digits on the radar gun with his fastball into the ninth inning. This time, he topped out as a still-impressive 97 mph.
"It doesn't matter how hard you throw," Macha said. "It's controlling bat speed."
Said Counsell: "He's a good pitcher, and we just didn't create too many opportunities for ourselves."
The opportunities they did have, fizzled. The Brewers put runners at first and third with one out in the third inning when Jason Kendall walked and McGehee singled, but Verlander retired Braun on a tapper in front of the plate and Fielder on a grounder to third base.
In the fourth, Mat Gamel walked and appeared headed for third base on J.J. Hardy's single up the middle. But Gamel was running on the pitch and didn't check the baseball on contact, so it hit his leg for the final out of the inning.
"You probably have to pick the ball up," Macha said.
The Brewers returned home to Milwaukee after the game following a 3-3 road trip. They had their sights on something better after sweeping the Indians in Cleveland.
"It was a pretty weird trip," Gallardo said. "We've got an off-day [on Monday], and then we'll show up back at home and prepare to win."