DETROIT -- Ubaldo Jimenez, his control seemingly under control this season, scattered three hits over six innings while striking out eight Saturday night, and the Cleveland bullpen survived a late Detroit rally as the Indians beat Justin Verlander and the Tigers 7-6.
Jimenez left a 6-1 lead to his bullpen, but Nick Hagadone did not retire any of the three batters he faced at the start of the seventh. That left the bases loaded for Cody Allen, and pinch-hitter Brayan Pena hit a sacrifice fly to center, Omar Infante tripled home two, and Austin Jackson's groundout to second scored Infante to make the deficit 6-5.
Joe Smith worked himself in and out of a two-run jam in the eighth and Chris Perez staggered through the ninth for his sixth save.
Cleveland got an important add-on run in the eighth for a 7-5 lead on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Jason Giambi.
In the ninth, Torii Hunter's two-out RBI single to right with runners on first and third reduced the lead to a run -- and it would have tied the game if Jason Kipnis had not made a backhanded flip for a force-out at second on Jackson's grounder up the middle. Perez got Miguel Cabrera on a topped slow grounder to third to end the game.
Jimenez (3-2) picked up his third straight victory. He walked just one and has walked more than three in a start just once to at least partially remove one of his biggest impediments to success.
A leadoff home run by Jhonny Peralta in the third was the only run Jimenez gave up.
Cleveland took advantage of uncharacteristic wildness by Justin Verlander to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.
Verlander wasn't able to spot his fastball as well as usual and wound up facing eight batters in the two-run first inning.
Nick Swisher's rocket double to right gave the Indians a 1-0 lead and left runners on second and third. Verlander then walked the next two batters, Carlos Santana and Jason Giambi, to force in a second run.
It was only the third time in Verlander's career he had walked in a run, with two coming in each of the last two seasons. He has, however, hit a batter twice with the bases full.
Verlander switched to mostly breaking balls in the second inning and got two quick outs, but Kipnis lined a single to right and Asdrubal Cabrera drove him in with a double into the right-field corner.
After Peralta got Detroit on the board in the third, the Indians added runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh.
Swisher walked leading off the fifth and was safe at second on an unusual play. Santana grounded out to first unassisted and Swisher was a seemingly certain out at second, except Miguel Cabrera's return throw on a rundown was wild for an error. Mark Reynolds lined an RBI single to center one out later.
Reliever Drew Smyly allowed his first run since April 12, eight appearances ago, in the sixth when Michael Bourn singled with one out, stole second and scored on a single by Cabrera.
The Indians padded their lead to 6-1 in the seventh on an RBI single by Mike Aviles.
Verlander (4-3) struck out seven in his five innings but walked five and gave up six hits and three earned runs.
NOTES: RHP Trevor Bauer will be called up from Triple-A Columbus on Monday to pitch the second game of Cleveland's doubleheader against the visiting New York Yankees. "You see all the stuff, especially the fastball," manager Terry Francona said. "He doesn't necessarily always have to command it, but there does have to be a higher percentage of strikes. I think this guy is going to be what we're looking for. It's just going to take time to develop. He's a little stubborn, but I think you're going to see the day when you're glad he is." ... Tigers' RHP Octavio Dotel recently got a second opinion on his inflamed right elbow that confirmed the original diagnosis. He was told to rest for six days, continue on medication and then try to throw again next week. "There is no structural damage," manager Jim Leyland said. Dotel has been on the disabled list since April 20. ... RHP Brett Myers, on the disabled list since April 20 with right elbow inflammation, threw a bullpen session Saturday for the Indians. Myers will throw again early next week if his elbow responds well to Saturday's session. He'll be traveling with the team to Philadelphia on Tuesday. ... Matt Tuiasosopo will get a start in left field in one of the three games Detroit hosts Houston on Monday through Wednesday. "He'll start one of those games against Houston," said manager Jim Leyland, who likes to play his bench to keep them sharp. The Astros will be starting right-handers in all three games but the right-handed hitter needs some action.