DETROIT - The best 3-4 combination Jim Leyland's ever seen put a 1-2 knockout punch on the streaking Cleveland Indians.
No. 3 hitter Miguel Cabrera hit a long three-run homer that jumped his season RBI count to 40 Friday night, and cleanup hitter Prince Fielder hit an even longer solo shot that powered Detroit to a 10-4 victory that was only Cleveland's second loss in its last dozen games. The Tigers have won eight of 11.
"You get RBI, that means people are getting on base," Leyland said. "I kind of let him (Cabrera) play, get out of the way.
"I've said before that him and Prince are the best 3-4 combination I've seen."
"They're maybe the best 3-4 combination in the history of the game," said winning pitcher Max Scherzer (5-0), who maybe isn't old enough or steeped in enough baseball history to remember guys named Ruth and Gehrig. "If they're not there, they're certainly with them."
Scherzer allowed a run on two hits in the first, two in the seventh on two hits and in between gave up just a triple to Nick Swisher in the fourth. Swisher, who had three hits, came home on an RBI groundout by Carlos Santana. Scherzer struck out seven in his eight innings and Joaquin Benoit pitched the ninth.
Unnoticed, but maybe the biggest hit of the game was a two-run double to right in the second by Alex Avila that put Detroit up 2-1. The Tigers would add another run on a single by Torii Hunter.
"That was huge," Leyland said of the 3-0 pitch Avila yanked into the right field corner. "In that situation we want him to be selective, but if you get a pitch, pull it. He's been swinging better the last four days."
Cabrara put his seventh home run of the season deep to left center, just below the names of Hall of Fame members Ty Cobb and Hank Greenberg to put Detroit on top 7-2.
An inning earlier Fielder bounced his ninth home run, a solo shot, an estimated 460 feet away off the brick wall in right center and right between the numbers of Sparky Anderson (11) and Jackie Robinson (42).
Andy Dirks got into the home run swing with a solo shot to right in the seventh, his third, to put Detroit ahead 9-4 after Cleveland had scored twice in the top of the inning.
Swisher's single and a double by Santana put runners at second and third, both scoring on a groundout by Mark Reynolds plus a sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley.
Victor Martinez had an RBI single in the eighth that produced an unearned run for the Tigers.
Cory Kluber (2-2) took his second straight loss for allowing 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings.
"I thought his stuff was identical to his last start," manager Terry Francona of Cleveland said. "He was crisp when he got into the game but he made mistakes up in the strike zone to the middle of the order. He threw a slider/cutter in the middle and up to Cabrera to break the game up.
"That's a tough lineup to throw to. We scored four runs off one of the better pitchers in the game. You have to kind of scratch and claw against a guy like that."
Omar Infante doubled with one out and Austin Jackson followed with a single to set Cabrera up in the seventh. Avila drove in his second run of the night with a single up the middle in the fifth to make it 8-2.
A hustle triple to right by Swisher with one out in the fourth brought Cleveland up to a 4-2 deficit when Santana brought him home by grounding out to second.
Martinez walked and Jhonny Peralta blooped a one-out double into short left near the foul line before Avila ripped a 3-0 pitch by Kluber that erased a 1-0 Indians' lead. Infante doubled and Hunter singled to right. Only Avila was able to score before Hunter was tagged out rounding first too far. Infante crossed the plate too - but after Hunter was tagged out to end the inning.
Doubles by Jason Kipnis and Swisher in the first inning off Scherzer gave Cleveland a 1-0 lead.
NOTES: OF/IF Ryan Raburn returned to Detroit for the first time Friday as a member of the Cleveland Indians but did not play in the series opener. Raburn was let go by Detroit, the organization which drafted and brought him to the big leagues, at the end of last season following a disappointing 2012 season during which he was booed heavily and often by fans. "I'd come to the park thinking, 'What's going to happen today,'" said Raburn, who made Cleveland as a non-roster free agent. "I forgot how much fun this game is. It wasn't much fun for me last year." ... LHP Phil Coke was activated by Detroit from the disabled list after the game with RHP Luke Putkonen optioned to Triple-A Toledo. Coke had been out with a left groin strain.. ... Francona plans to be careful with CF Michael Bourn, who just returned to action after being disabled with a right finger laceration. "He's only played two games. We've got a night game, a night game, a day game and a doubleheader. I'll keep my eyes on it." ... Detroit's bullpen has been outstanding of late. Tigers' relievers entered Friday night's game with the Indians having allowed a 1.39 ERA over the previous 12 games with two wins and 39 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. .. Cleveland entered Friday with 49 home runs, most in the Majors. ... The home run Rich Hill gave up to Dirks in the eighth inning was his first since July 21, 2009, a stretch of 51 games and 40 2/3 innings for the journeyman southpaw.