Indians 7, Tigers 4

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DETROIT (AP)—Paul Byrd is throwing so well that he’s worried he’s getting too much of the plate.

Byrd won his fourth straight decision, Casey Blake and Victor Martinez hit first-inning homers and the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 7-4 on Friday night.

Byrd (5-1) threw 60 strikes in 73 pitches, a ratio that he thought was too good. He allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings to improve to 4-0 in his last six starts. He struck out four, and didn’t issue a walk for the fifth straight start.

“Normally, throwing strikes isn’t a problem,” Byrd said. “But I was throwing hittable pitches when I was already ahead in the count. Against a team like Detroit, that’s like flicking matches at gasoline. I wouldn’t have slept 15 minutes if we had lost this one, as well as everyone else played.”

The game was the first of seven between the AL Central’s top teams in the next 10 days. The Indians’ victory gave them a half-game lead over Detroit.

“This was a nice game,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We had a lot of good things happen tonight.”

Blake hit a drive to left off Nate Robertson with one out in the first for his fifth homer in 26 career at-bats against the left-hander. It was Blake’s sixth of the season.

Robertson (4-4) struck out Travis Hafner before Martinez homered into the tunnel beyond the right-field fence to make it 2-0.

Robertson went 5 2-3 innings, giving up five runs, 10 hits and three walks. He dropped to 1-3 in his last four starts.

“I don’t know why I’m hittable like this right now,” Robertson said. “I’ve just got to make some adjustments. That’s what this game is about. I’m just going through a funk right now.”

Josh Barfield hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Grady Sizemore singled in a run in the sixth to give Cleveland a 5-1 lead.

The Tigers put together a two-run rally in the bottom half of the sixth. Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen doubled with two outs. Ivan Rodriguez then hit a slow grounder that trickled into center field as Guillen easily scored to make it 5-3.

Craig Monroe, who was robbed of a three-run homer by Jason Michaels in the third, hit a ball just a little higher in the seventh for his sixth of the season to make it a one-run game.

“I thought I had a chance at that one, too,” said Michaels, who reached well above the left-field fence to snag Monroe’s first drive. “I take a lot of pride in my defense.”

Monroe didn’t take much consolation at getting the second one past Michaels, especially since his third-inning fly ball would have given Detroit a 4-2 lead.

“If he doesn’t make that, we go ahead and the tables are kind of turning,” he said. “But this is the big leagues, and guys will make those plays if you give them an opportunity.”

Hafner tripled in Blake and Jhonny Peralta hit a sacrifice fly in the ninth to get some breathing room for Joe Borowski, who allowed a leadoff single to Sean Casey before retiring the next three hitters for his 15th save.

Notes

Ordonez has scored at least once in eight straight games. … Gary Sheffield went 0-for-3 against Byrd, lowering his career average to .095 (2-21) against him. … Tigers setup man Fernando Rodney is expected to miss the entire weekend series with tightness in his shoulder, but he said before the game that he does not consider it serious. … The game drew a sellout crowd of 40,074 on a 70-degree night.

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