CLEVELAND — The Indians kept Max Scherzer from continuing his winning ways, but they couldn’t prevent the Tigers from taking a key series at Progressive Field.
Scherzer entered the game with victories in his first 13 decisions of the season, but he departed after seven innings with the game tied. Still, the right-hander’s teammates picked him up, with former Indian Victor Martinez’s two-out, two-run double in the 10th inning off reliever Matt Albers lifting Detroit to a 4-2 win.
“We left a small village on the sacks tonight,” said Nick Swisher, whose club left 10 on base to the Tigers’ eight. Cleveland’s Mike Aviles left seven on. “Obviously this is a frustrating loss. It’s a tough game to lose.”
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The win — the Tigers’ third in the four-game series — bumped Detroit’s lead in the Central Division to 3½ games over second-place Cleveland, which lost for the fifth time in seven games.
The Tigers scored first on consecutive doubles from Martinez and Jhonny Peralta in the second inning off starter Scott Kazmir, who allowed two runs on four hits while striking out five over 5⅔ innings.
But after a 20-minute rain delay with the Indians batting in the second inning, Cleveland came back to score its only two runs off Scherzer on a two-out single from Lonnie Chisenhall.
Chisenhall was at the plate when the game was delayed. He returned with the count at 2-2 and sent the first pitch he saw into right field to put his team in front for the only time.
Detroit tied it when Matt Tuiasosopo hit a solo home run off Kazmir with one out in the fourth.
It was a solid outing for Kazmir (4-4, 4.74 ERA) against a formidable lineup, as far as manager Terry Francona was concerned.
“When you locate your fastball, you can pitch against any lineup with success,” Francona said. “Once he did that, it opened it up for his breaking ball, and he really did a nice job.”
With rain falling consistently throughout the night, pitching took over after the fourth, as the teams managed few scoring opportunities.
Still, Cleveland blew a substantial chance to plate the winning run in the ninth inning.
Mark Reynolds singled to start the inning and was replaced by pinch runner Drew Stubbs, who advanced to second on a passed ball. With a runner in scoring position, Cleveland failed miserably, as Chisenhall flied to center, Yan Gomes struck out for the third time and Michael Bourn flied to left.
“Our big chance, obviously, was in the ninth,” Francona said. “We just couldn’t push a run across.”
Given how dominating Scherzer (13-0, 3.06 ERA) has been this year, the Indians did an admirable job against him, collecting seven hits and — at least for now — preventing him from winning his first 14 decisions. That hasn’t been accomplished in the majors since Roger Clemens in 1986.
“We made him work,” Francona said. “We made him earn everything. To his credit, he has a lot of weapons. He gets it up to 97 (mph), 98 when he needs to. He can pitch at 93, 94. He can drop that change-up, slider. There are a lot of different speeds and a lot of different locations.”
Scherzer didn’t get the win, but his team did, and that was more than enough for him.
“This was our best win of the year and I was proud to be a part of it,” Scherzer said.
The decisive 10th inning began well enough for Albers, who retired the first two hitters before walking Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder to bring Martinez to the plate.
Martinez took a strike before launching a ball over Bourn’s head in center to score Cabrera and Fielder.
The win snapped a six-game losing streak for the Tigers in extra innings. Cleveland lost for the first time in six games past the ninth inning. The Indians entered the night as the only undefeated team in the majors in extra innings.
- WHO: Cleveland vs. Toronto
- TIME: 7:05
- WHERE: Progressive Field
- PITCHERS: Jimenez (6-4, 4.67 ERA) vs. Johnson (1-3, 4.89)
- TV/RADIO: STO; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM, WMMS 100.7-FM