Rookies Talbot and Tomlin win as Indians sweep

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CLEVELAND (AP)—Cleveland Indians manager Manny Acta squeezed everything out of his team to beat Detroit ace Justin Verlander(notes).

Trevor Crowe’s(notes) suicide squeeze bunt on an eye-high 99 mph fastball scored the go-ahead run in the second game as Cleveland swept a doubleheader from the Tigers, 4-0 and 4-3, Wednesday night

“It was special for us and for the fans the way we finished,” Acta said after Cleveland’s sixth straight win.

Right-handers Mitch Talbot(notes) and Josh Tomlin(notes) both finished their rookie seasons with wins. Tomlin (6-4) went five innings to beat Verlander (18-9) after Talbot (10-13) pitched seven innings for only his third win in his last 13 starts, defeating Max Scherzer(notes) (12-11) in the opener.

Crowe’s exceptional bunt gave Cleveland a 4-3 lead in the fifth.

“When Verlander has a runner in scoring position, he tends to work his fastball up,” Crowe said. “I was looking for it, but not one way up there. You can’t practice against something like that.”

Lou Marson(notes) walked and Michael Brantley(notes) followed with a game-tying RBI triple. Brantley took off for home and Crowe somehow made contact for the RBI.

“You gotta give him a lot of credit,” Verlander said. “The pitch was neck high. He did a fantastic job. He’s got to get it down at all costs.”

Verlander threw 121 pitches in trying to match his career high in wins set a year ago. He got out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh by fanning both Crowe and Shin-Soo Choo(notes) on fastballs clocked at 101 mph. He struck out 10 overall.

“There were signs of brillance and there were a couple of mistakes made,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It was a kind of a Jekyll and Hyde game for him.”

Detroit could not rally against five relievers. Chris Perez(notes) got the final four outs for his 23rd save in 27 chances and 10th in a row.

It is the second straight year the Indians finished the home schedule with a makeup doubleheader. They split two games with the Chicago White Sox in 2009 in the final home games managed by Eric Wedge, who was fired with his staff after a 65-97 finish.

Cleveland’s 2010 home attendance of 1,391,644 was its lowest since 1,224,274 at old Cleveland Stadium in 1992.

After this sweep, every Indians player and coach tossed a dozen baseballs into the crowd. Each ball had been personally autographed.

“We wanted to leave a lasting impression,” Acta said. “What have you done for me lately. We did that with a terrific win and an exciting play.”

Ryan Raburn(notes) had a two-run homer and Johnny Damon(notes) a bloop RBI single as Detroit built a 3-0 lead.

Cleveland scored on a wild pitch by Verlander in the second and Jayson Nix(notes) added an RBI single in the fourth.

Travis Hafner(notes) and Choo hit two-run homers to help Talbot win the opener.

“It is one you can think about during the winter when you are sitting on the couch,” Talbot said. “To finish on a good note was great.”

The right-hander gave up five hits and struck out five without a walk.

Talbot missed two weeks with a strained back in August and one start this month with an inflamed right shoulder.

“I felt OK both times I came back, but I just didn’t know where the ball was going,” Talbot said. “Today, I was locating my fastball and my secondary pitches were sharp.”

Jensen Lewis(notes) and rookie Vinnie Pestano(notes) each pitched a scoreless inning to complete Cleveland’s fourth shutout—the 10th time the Tigers have been shut out and first since the Indians’ Justin Masterson(notes) did it to them on Aug. 20.

“We didn’t do anything offensively,” Leyland said. “Pretty anemic. We played like it was a spring training ‘B’ game. We played like it was still raining.”

Scherzer was 5-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 11 previous starts, but walked three and gave up four runs and eight hits over five innings.

In the opener, Damon became the fifth player in history to play in 140 games in 15 consecutive seasons. Willie Mays also did it 15 times; Hank Aaron, Brooks Robinson and Pete Rose 16 times. Cal Ripken Jr., played in a record 2,632 straight games over 17 years for Baltimore, but was in only 112 games in 1994, when a players strike stopped the season in August.

The Tigers were without MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera(notes). The slugging first baseman is out for the season with a sprained right ankle, sustained Monday night. He leads the majors with 126 RBIs, is tied for second in the AL with 38 homers and is third in league batting at .328.

Notes: Detroit went 1-8 at Progressive Field and 8-1 against the Indians at home. … Indians RHP Hector Ambriz(notes) will have elbow surgery Friday. … Choo went 3 for 3 off Scherzer to put his career average at .555 (5 for 9) against the right-hander. Hafner went 2 for 3 to go to .600 (6 for 10) against Scherzer. … Tigers OF Austin Jackson(notes) became the fourth rookie since 1901 with 100 runs, 180 hits, 30 doubles, 10 triples and 25 stolen bases. Joe Jackson (1911), Juan Samuel (1984) and Hanley Ramirez(notes) (2006) also did it. … In the opener, Choo got his 14th outfield assist, which leads the majors. … Cleveland OF Shelley Duncan(notes) got his first career steal in the eighth inning of the nightcap.

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