Gutierrez hits 3-run homer, Indians beat Tigers 11-8 to increase AL Central lead

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DETROIT (AP)—Before the game, Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge explained that he put Franklin Gutierrez in the lineup to create more offense.

Gutierrez did just that, hitting a three-run homer to help Cleveland rebound from a tough loss and beat the Detroit Tigers 11-8 on Wednesday night.

Gutierrez also doubled to start a four-run rally in the fourth inning. He scored twice and made a nice running catch on a drive by Magglio Ordonez to deep right-center in the third.

“He’s a huge reason why we won this game,” Indians pitcher Paul Byrd said.

The Indians overcame homers by Carlos Guillen, Ordonez and Marcus Thames to tie the series at a game apiece and increase their AL Central lead to 1 1/2 games over Detroit.

The Tigers rallied for two runs in the ninth when Jensen Lewis allowed four hits, including RBI singles by Placido Polanco and Ordonez with one out. Joe Borowski relieved with two on and retired Guillen before striking out Ivan Rodriguez on a 3-2 pitch for his 35th save in 40 chances.

“We fought back all night long, but couldn’t catch them,” Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said.

The rubber game is Thursday afternoon, with Jake Westbrook on the mound for Cleveland against Nate Robertson.

“Now we put ourselves in a position where we can come out tomorrow and fight to win the series,” Wedge said.

The Indians got an outstanding pitching performance from Fausto Carmona in the series opener Tuesday night, but Ordonez and Guillen hit consecutive home runs in the fifth inning to lead the Tigers to a 2-1 victory. Cleveland managed only one hit, Jhonny Peralta’s sixth-inning homer off Jair Jurrjens, who was making his second big league start.

The Indians’ offense broke loose Wednesday against Justin Verlander, scoring four runs with two outs in the fourth and three in the fifth on Gutierrez’s homer.

“We tried to be early and tried to swing at fastballs (against Verlander),” Gutierrez said.

Byrd (12-5) lasted 5 1-3 innings. He gave up six runs and seven hits while walking two and striking out four.

“I would have liked to have given up fewer runs, personally,” he said. “But the season’s not about my ERA, it’s about us winning the division.”

Verlander (13-5) allowed seven runs and 10 hits in four-plus innings, walking one and striking out five.

“I was up and down all night,” he said. “I had a good fastball for only one inning, otherwise I was up in the zone and couldn’t control any of my pitches.”

Trailing 3-1, the Indians rallied for four runs in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead. All the runs came with two outs, as Cleveland got four consecutive two-out singles. Asdrubal Cabrera, Casey Blake and Grady Sizemore got the RBIs, and the fourth run scored on Verlander’s wild pitch.

Gutierrez greeted reliever Zach Miner with his three-run homer in the fifth that made it 8-3. Travis Hafner and Peralta led off with singles to chase Verlander. Gutierrez then hit a drive into the left-field stands for his ninth home run.

Ordonez hit his 24th homer leading off the sixth and Thames added a two-run shot with one out for his 14th of the season, which sent Byrd to the showers.

Hafner doubled in a run and Kelly Shoppach had a two-run single in the eighth for Cleveland.

“We battled all the way to the end,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It was the add-on runs that killed us.”

The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first on Victor Martinez’s RBI single.

Guillen’s three-run homer in the bottom half with two outs gave Detroit a 3-1 advantage. Sean Casey singled with two outs and Ordonez followed with a walk. Guillen then drove Byrd’s 1-1 pitch deep into the right-field stands for his 17th homer of the season.

Notes

Detroit DH Gary Sheffield said he will be out for at least the rest of the current homestand, which ends on Monday, because of a sore right shoulder. It has bothered him for more than a month. Thames was the DH on Wednesday. … Six of Cleveland’s runs came with two outs. … Tigers LHP Kenny Rogers, on the DL with left elbow inflammation, threw off a mound in the bullpen Tuesday and is scheduled for another bullpen session Thursday.

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