Indians 8, Tigers 5
CLEVELAND (AP)—If they’re not careful, the Detroit Tigers are going to get caught by their tails.
Rookie Joe Inglett’s two-run triple off Justin Verlander highlighted Cleveland’s six-run fifth inning that sent the Indians to an 8-5 win Saturday night over the Tigers, who have lost four straight and maybe their stranglehold on the AL Central.
The Tigers led the division by 10 games on Aug. 7, and were threatening to run away with the title. But after losing seven of nine and going 5-13 since Aug. 9, their lead is less than five games for the first time since July 19.
On Friday, manager Jim Leyland warned his team “to step it up.” Following their latest loss, Leyland didn’t say a word to the Tigers. And judging by the somber mood in Detroit’s clubhouse afterward, he didn’t have to.
“We’re just in one of those little streaks right now,” Leyland said. “You pitch good and you don’t hit or you hit and don’t pitch good. That’s not a combination conducive to winning games. It’s going to happen when you play 162.”
Several of the Tigers gathered in front of a large-screen TV to watch highlights of their game and updates on the Twins and White Sox. The loudest sound in the room were forks clanging off dinner plates as the players dug into their postgame spread.
“We’re in a bit of a drought right now,” Verlander said. “I don’t think anyone here is scared of anything.”
Jake Westbrook (11-8) gutted out seven innings, allowing five runs and 12 hits to win for the fourth time in five starts. He walked three, didn’t record a strikeout and was helped by three double plays.
Jason Michaels had three hits off Verlander (15-7), scored twice and made a diving catch in left for the Indians, who have won eight straight at Jacobs Field.
Craig Monroe homered for the slumping Tigers.
Trailing 5-2, the Indians scored six times to chase Verlander, the hard-throwing rookie who was in line for his 16th win but lost for the third time in four starts.
After Grady Sizemore singled and Michaels hit a ground-rule double, Verlander struck out Travis Hafner with a 100 mph fastball. Ryan Garko, though, followed by slicing a two-run double to right, and after Shin-Soo Choo singled, Jhonny Peralta’s broken-bat RBI single tied it 5-5.
The scrappy Inglett then fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches before lining a triple into center, giving the Indians a 7-5 lead and bringing Leyland out of the dugout to get the ball from Verlander.
“I got the bat out front and hit it where they weren’t,” Inglett said. “He split the plate and I got it.”
Leyland chalked up Verlander’s sudden ineffectiveness to inexperience.
“He may have tried to do too much,” Leyland said. “Maybe he was trying a little too hard. The kid is fantastic and you figure out things as you go along.”
Verlander gave up a season-high eight runs and 10 hits in 4 2-3 innings— his shortest outing since April 13.
Westbrook dodged trouble in the first and third by getting Magglio Ordonez to bounce into double plays. But the Tigers right fielder came through in the fifth as his two-run single gave Detroit a 5-2 lead.
Down 2-0, the Indians had tied it with a pair of runs in the third on Michaels’ RBI double and a run-scoring single by Hafner, who had his career-high 14-game hitting streak snapped on Friday.
Detroit’s offense has been in a funk for two weeks. The Tigers entered the game having scored just 50 runs in their past 15 games. But Monroe put them up 1-0 early by connecting for his 22nd homer with one out in the first.
Brandon Inge’s RBI single made it 2-0 in the second.
A crowd of 29,138—bolstered by thousands of Tigers fans—witnessed the 2,000th game between Detroit and Cleveland. The Tigers lead the all-time series 1,014-986. … Cleveland’s home winning streak is its longest since winning nine in a row last season. … Following the game, fans watched the feel-good baseball flick “Field of Dreams” on the stadium’s giant TV scoreboard. For $10, fans could get a beach towel, bucket of popcorn and sit in the outfield grass. … Indians media relations director Bart Swain sustained a broken finger and dislocated wrist when was hit by a car while riding his bike near his home in Avon Lake, Ohio. He’s shaken but OK—and day to day.
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