Detroit's Verlander shuts down Indians

The Sports Xchange

CLEVELAND -- The Detroit Tigers have found that the best way to keep the Cleveland Indians from closing the gap in the Central Division race is to keep playing Cleveland.

The Tigers continued their dominance of the Indians on Tuesday night with a 5-1 victory, Detroit's 10th win in a row.

Don Kelly's three-run home run capped a five-run fifth inning and Justin Verlander pitched eight dominating innings to lead the way for the division-leading Tigers, who extended their lead over second-place Cleveland to five games.

The Tigers, who have won the first two games of this four-game series, are 11-3 vs. the Indians this season and have won 14 of the last 18 meetings.

"Every game is a big game, especially against the guys that are chasing us," Verlander said. "They've been playing extremely good, and so have we. We know it's going to be a battle this series and it's not over yet, but obviously winning the first two is a great start."

Detroit manager Jim Leyland said momentum is overrated.

"There's no such thing as momentum in baseball. I don't believe in that," he said. "I believe whoever pitched the best tonight was going to win the game, and Verlander pitched the best."

The game was a battle of aces, although, as Cleveland manager Terry Francona pointed out before the game, "Detroit has four aces. That's why they are so good."

Verlander outpitched Cleveland's Justin Masterson, although

Masterson (13-8) had only one bad inning. In the six other innings, he held the Tigers scoreless on three hits.

Verlander (12-8) gave up a run in the second inning and dominated Cleveland hitters the rest of the way. He pitched eight innings, holding Cleveland to one run on four hits, with seven strikeouts and no walks.

"We had a couple of chances against him but then he found another gear, which we've seen in the past," Francona said. "When he hits 100 (mph) at the knees and then throws in that breaking ball, that's tough."

Leyland said, "He went after it real good tonight. You can't go after it much better than that. I thought he was absolutely terrific."

During their 10-game winning streak, Tigers pitchers have allowed a total of 13 runs.

Cleveland took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Michael

Brantley, hitting.417 vs. Verlander, singled and then scored on an infield groundout.

The Tigers took command with a five-run fifth inning. Ramon Santiago was hit by a pitch, advanced to third on Austin Jackson's single and scored when Torii Hunter grounded out at second.

Miguel Cabrera followed with a double off the center-field wall,

scoring Hunter and giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead. Masterson hit Victor Martinez with a pitch and Kelly blasted a three-run home run over the right-field wall, giving the Tigers a 5-1 lead.

"Hitting the two guys with sliders is what upset me most," Masterson said.

Kelly's homer was his third hit in three at-bats vs. Masterson as he raised his career average vs. the Indians' ace to .458 (11-for-24), with two home runs and eight RBI.

"That's why he was in there. He's definitely been a thorn in our side," Francona said.

Masterson said, "He loves facing me. I think he salivates when he gets up there against me. If I was Superman, he'd be my kryptonite."

NOTES: The Indians placed RHP Corey Kluber on the disabled list with a sprained right middle finger, the same injury that caused RHP Zach McAllister to miss six weeks earlier this season. The Indians recalled RHP Matt Langwell from Triple-A Columbus. ... Tigers RHP Octavio Dotel is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Lakeland on Wednesday. Dotel has been out since April 20 with right elbow inflammation. ... Tigers 2B Omar Infante began an injury rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Tuesday. Infante has been sidelined since July 4 with a left ankle sprain.