Tigers 13, Indians 4

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CLEVELAND (AP)—On one slippery play, Bobby Higginson caught himself and the ball.

Higginson made a sensational over-the-head catch in right field to save Mike Maroth a couple runs, and the Detroit Tigers got homers from Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames in a 13-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.

Thames hit a two-run homer in Detroit’s six-run first inning against Cliff Lee (10-3), and Guillen hit a three-run shot when the Tigers added six more in the fifth to open a 12-2 lead—without any offensive help from Ivan Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who entered the night as the AL’s leading hitter, went 0-for-4 and was the only Tigers starter without a hit on a misty night at Jacobs Field.

Higginson made the game’s biggest play in the third inning, preserving a 6-1 lead for the Tigers by racing back to somehow snag Casey Blake’s drive.

“I didn’t think he had a chance,” Blake said.

Neither did Higginson, who lost his footing before turning to run toward the right-field wall.

“I slipped, then all I wanted to do was catch it—whether I used my glove or not,” he said.

Running with his back to the plate, Higginson hauled in Blake’s potential extra-base hit by cradling the ball to his body with his forearms like an NFL wide receiver making a touchdown catch.

“I did feel like a receiver there,” he said. “It was just reaction.”

And according to Maroth (8-7), who pitched seven soggy innings, one of the season’s best moments.

“That’s one of the best catches I’ve ever seen,” Maroth said. “I saw him slip, which makes it even more remarkable. All I saw was his number. I don’t even think he used his glove to get it.”

Blake joked that he didn’t care for Higginson’s heroics.

“I told Dmitri Young to tell him that I wanted to meet him after the game so I could fight him,” Blake said.

Guillen had four RBIs for the Tigers, barely hanging on in the AL Central race. Brandon Inge had a career-high four hits with two RBIs, and Rondell White drove in two runs for Detroit.

Lou Merloni homered for the Indians, who were coming off a four-game sweep of the AL-worst Kansas City Royals.

Lee threw his first pitch at 7:04 p.m. and his last at 7:23 after allowing the Tigers to hit for the cycle—homer, triple, double and single—while scoring six times in the first.

Omar Infante opened the inning with a triple and scored on Guillen’s double. One out later, Young walked, and White’s two-run double made it 3-0.

It got worse for Lee when Thames followed with his sixth homer, and second in two days after hitting a grand slam on Sunday, to make it 5-0.

Inge and Nook Logan reached on infield singles, chasing Lee after 40 pitches. Infante then greeted reliever Rick White with an RBI single to cap the inning.

Lee had his second consecutive horrendous outing, and the shortest of his career. The left-hander, who opened the season 10-1, allowed six runs and six hits in two-thirds of an inning.

Cleveland has been outscored 27-4 in Lee’s last two starts. Last week, he gave up seven runs in four innings of a 14-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

“I’m not tired,” said Lee, 0-2 with a 25.05 ERA in his last two starts. “They hit everything I threw today—again. I was throwing my fastball and they didn’t miss them.”

Guillen’s three-run homer, his 16th, capped Detroit’s six-run fifth. Inge also had a two-run double in the inning.

Just before Guillen connected for his homer, plate umpire Paul Nauert didn’t see the Tigers’ shortstop get hit on the leg with a pitch from Matt Miller. Higginson scored on what was ruled a wild pitch, which then cost Guillen a possible grand slam.

Guillen is batting .387 with 11 doubles, six homers and 26 RBIs in his last 27 games.

Notes

Rodriguez came in batting .400 (70-for-175) in his last 46 games. … Indians OF Jody Gerut is in a 9-for-68 (.132) slump since July 5. … With the trade deadline only days away, Tigers manager Alan Trammell doesn’t know if his club will make a deal. “As much as I want to say we should hold this together, I understand the way it works and where we want to go,” he said. “There’s nothing going on at this point. I would be surprised if something happened, but I know these things usually happen at the last minute.” … The Tigers are 7-4 against the Indians this season.

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