DETROIT -- Dan Haren and Justin Verlander squared off on the mound for the second time in 11 days, and it certainly won't be the last time the young aces face each other.

Already, they're two of the premier right-handed pitchers in the major leagues. That doesn't mean they're not prone to stumble on occasion.

Haren was his usual steady self navigating his way through Detroit's dangerous lineup, but a couple of ill-advised pitches while he was ahead in the count proved the A's undoing in a 5-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Saturday in front of a sellout crowd at Comerica Park.

Pinpoint accuracy has been a key to Haren's All-Star season to this point. So has learning from his mistakes. And Haren took a healthy portion of blame even though his line was good enough for his 14th victory. A solo homer by Marcus Thames in the first inning gave Detroit the early lead. Then with the A's leading 2-1 in the sixth, a two-run job from American League batting leader Magglio Ordonez put the Tigers on top for good.

Both came on 1-2 pitches, which had to have Haren steaming underneath his green cap.

"It's a very tough lineup. There were a couple of pitches obviously I'd like to have back," Haren said. "The long ball beat me. It was a close game. I knew it was going to be low scoring with Verlander on the mound."

Verlander (12-4), the 2006 American League Rookie of the Year and an All-Star teammate of Haren's this season, was not his usual self in the July 31 game at McAfee Coliseum. He walked four that night and lasted just 5-1/3 innings in absorbing the loss.

The nasty stuff returned in front of his home fans, particularly a biting curve that the A's never quite figured out. Verlander turned things over to the Tigers' stingy bullpen after six-plus innings, striking out seven and walking just two.

"Did you see the radar gun?" A's third baseman Marco Scutaro inquired when asked to explain Verlander's effectiveness. "He's got three pretty good pitches -- fastball, a slow curve and a good changeup. It's always tough when a guy throws 95, then throws a 75 mph curveball. And he can throw it any time in the count."

But Haren (13-4) was very good himself, going 6-1/3 innings and allowing nine hits but just three runs.

The A's just couldn't muster enough offense, one day after they put 16 runs on the board in the series opener. That's your 2007 A's offense in a nutshell -- explosive one night and sputtering the next.

Oakland went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

But Jack Cust's single to center with one out in the third scored Travis Buck to tie the game 1-1, giving him 12 RBI in his past nine games. Shannon Stewart's bloop single in the fifth brought home Kurt Suzuki to give the A's a short-lived 2-1 lead.

Then Haren found trouble against Ordonez, who was 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI on Friday. Haren let a fastball run in to Thames on the first-inning homer. After getting ahead of Ordonez, he tried to throw a split-fingered fastball in the dirt but didn't get it low enough.

Ordonez launched it over the left-field wall.

"He's a good low-ball hitter," said Haren, adding that he struggled with his split most of the night. "Obviously I wanted to bounce it."

The Tigers scored two insurance runs in the eighth off reliever Santiago Casilla, who has allowed 12 earned runs in his past 13 outings after a sensational start.