DETROIT (AP)—Craig Monroe was ready the second time he got a good pitch to hit in a crucial at-bat.
Monroe hit a long flyball foul before he connected on a 3-2 pitch for his 18th homer of the season.
“I just tried to refocus,” Monroe said. “I got a good pitch, a fastball, and hit it real good.”
The Indians led 6-4 after seven innings but the Tigers pushed across three in the eighth. Placido Polanco and Ivan Rodriguez singled off Rafael Betancourt with no outs to begin the rally. Magglio Ordonez then lined a pitch to right-center that looked like a game-tying extra-base hit, but Shin-Soo Choo raced into the gap to make a diving catch. Polanco tagged and went to third.
Betancourt was replaced by Fernando Cabrera (1-2), who surrendered a sacrifice fly to Carlos Guillen to deep center after Guillen hit a long drive down the right-field line that just went foul. Monroe followed with his third home run in three games.
“I made a mistake and I paid for that,” said Cabrera, after sitting facing his locker with his face in his hands after the game. “I was aggressive with him and I didn’t hit my location.”
Travis Hafner homered and Choo drove in two runs for Cleveland.
“You make your own breaks,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “You have to look at it like you’re getting a reprieve and make a pitch.”
Ramon Colon (2-0) allowed a run in 2 1-3 innings to get the win and Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 30th save in 33 chances.
Tigers starter Jeremy Bonderman allowed five runs and seven hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked three.
“We just stayed with it and got the big blow to win the game,” manager Jim Leyland said. “I didn’t have a good feeling about this game. It was an easy one to just pack it in. But we didn’t do that.”
Cleveland starter Cliff Lee gave up four runs and six hits with two walks in 6 1-3 innings.
“I miss on a couple of pitches in the sixth inning and then in the seventh, I get a walk,” Lee said. “With a lead like that, I can’t be walking people.”
Hafner’s solo homer with one out in the fifth made it 4-0. He drove Bonderman’s 0-1 pitch deep into the right-field stands for his 32nd of the season.
Andy Marte also singled in a run in the sixth for Cleveland to end an 0-for-14 slump since his contract was purchased from Triple-A Buffalo on July 28.
Detroit rookie RHP Justin Verlander will skip his scheduled start on Sunday because of fatigue in his right arm. He is 14-3 to lead the majors in wins and his 2.79 ERA is second in the American League and third in the majors. Reliever Wilfredo Ledezma will start on Sunday and Verlander is scheduled to start next Friday. … Hafner homered for the third consecutive game and his single in the seventh was the 500th hit of his career. … The Tigers agreed to terms with their 2006 first-round draft choice, LHP Andrew Miller, on a four-year deal. He pitched at North Carolina and will be among the team’s call-ups in September. … Actor Jeff Daniels attended the game. He lives in Chelsea, MI., which is about 50 miles west of Detroit.