Tigers 2, Indians 1

Preview | Box Score | Recap

DETROIT (AP)—While the Detroit Tigers are trying to avoid setting a major league record for losses, Gary Knotts is fighting for his big league career.

They both took a step in the right direction Thursday.

Knotts pitched effectively into the seventh inning and the Tigers won their third consecutive game, beating the Cleveland Indians 2-1 Thursday.

Knotts (3-5) got his first major league win since May 24, allowing one run and six hits in 6 2-3 innings in his first start since being sent to Triple-A Toledo on June 23.

“This was great, but now I need to build on it,” Knotts said. “I need to put together three or four good starts and show them that I can pitch consistently in the major leagues.”

The Tigers (37-102) have won three straight for the first time since July 8-10 against the Chicago White Sox and just the fourth time this season. Detroit needs at least six wins in its final 23 games to avoid matching the post-1900 record of 120 losses in a season, set by the 1962 Mets.

“Right now, any three-game winning streak is big, but this one doesn’t feel any different than the one against Chicago, however long ago that was,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “It feels awfully good, but we have to keep it going.”

Cleveland, which had six hits, had won 12 of 16 games against the Tigers before losing the last three.

“I made it very clear that you can’t get caught up in who you play or where you’re playing, you’ve still got to go out and execute and play the game if you’re going to give yourself a chance to win,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We just missed a lot of opportunities today and they played well.”

Danny Patterson pitched the ninth for his third save. Tigers shortstop Ramon Santiago dropped a two-out popup, putting the potential tying run at second. But Patterson struck out Jody Gerut, who finished the year with 27 RBIs against Detroit, to end it.

“That’s our style—I can’t even remember the last time we won an easy game,” Trammell said. “I just knew Jody Gerut was going to get one more shot at us. We’ve finally seen the last of that guy for the year, and to be honest, we’ve had enough of him.”

Jake Westbrook (6-9) lost despite pitching a five-hitter for his first complete game in 31 career major league starts. He is 1-3 in his last five starts.

“I felt real good today. I was pumped up most about throwing strikes,” Westbrook said. “The last couple outings, I’ve been kind of all over the place but I was able to pound the zone today and felt good about that.”

Westbrook didn’t allow a hit until Kevin Witt’s broken-bat single leading off the fifth. Witt went to third on Shane Halter’s hit-and-run single and scored when A.J. Hinch grounded into a double play.

Santiago followed with a single, stole second, moved to third on catcher Victor Martinez’s throwing error and came home on a wild pitch.

“Those are the type of innings we haven’t been able to put together this year,” Trammell said. “I wasn’t sure Kevin was even going to make it to third on that play, but it was good to see it properly executed. Our percentages haven’t been too high on hit-and-runs this year.”

Cleveland scored in the sixth when Ben Broussard walked, and Alex Escobarand Martinez singled.

Notes

Detroit hadn’t won a series since sweeping the White Sox in July. … Tigers INF Danny Klassen missed the game after straining his groin running out a grounder Wednesday. He is day to day. … Detroit’s Bobby Higginson returned to the lineup after a two-game suspension that resulted from his Aug. 10 ejection against Minnesota. … The game drew 11,371, and the four-game seriesaveraged 10,477.

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