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(Thursday, July 26th)
Final Score: Cleveland 5, Detroit 3
Cleveland, OH (Sports Network) - The Indians hadn't scored more than three runs in a game in over a week and were faced with the unenviable task of battling Justin Verlander on Thursday.
So, go figure -- Cleveland broke out of its offensive slump in one of its biggest games all season.
Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner hit back-to-back homers in a four-run seventh, and Asdrubal Cabrera singled home the go-ahead run to lead the Indians to a 5-3 victory over Detroit in the rubber match of this three-game set at Progressive Field.
"At the end of the day they're all important, but at the moment this one is big," Hafner said. "It's important we carry this into the next series."
Jason Kipnis had two hits and drove in two runs for the Indians, who have won three of four overall and seven of nine from Detroit this year. The season series with the Tigers is what's kept them alive in the division race, and now the Indians trail Chicago by 3 1/2 games instead of Detroit by five if the Tigers would have won Thursday.
Zach McAllister lasted 6 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on nine hits and two walks while fanning seven. The vaunted three-headed bullpen monster of Joe Smith (7-2), Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez allowed no runs the rest of the way, with Perez picking up his 29th save.
Verlander (11-6) allowed five earned runs for only the second time this year in a place where he usually struggles. In seven innings, he gave up nine hits and two walks while striking out only four -- only the fourth time in 21 outings he's fanned that few.
In 17 games at Progressive Field, Verlander is 6-10 with a 5.83 ERA.
"It was a horrible execution of pitches. I didn't hit my spots at all," Verlander admitted.
The damage to Verlander was done in the seventh, when the Indians sent nine players to the plate.
With an aggressive approach, Cleveland quickly tied the score, as Santana and Hafner took the first pitch they saw into the seats in right, turning a 3-1 game into a 3-3 contest in the blink of an eye.
Verlander, maybe somewhat rattled, allowed a single to Jose Lopez before retiring the next two hitters. Shin-Soo Choo kept the inning alive with a single, and Cabrera ripped a 2-0 pitch into right to plate Lopez with the go- ahead run.
Kipnis followed by lofting a soft liner to short, and Ramon Santiago couldn't handle it, allowing Choo to score on the single for a 5-3 cushion.
Pestano came in and retired the Tigers in order in the eighth -- his 13th straight scoreless appearance -- before Perez got into a little bit of trouble in the ninth.
Alex Avila doubled leading off, and Omar Infante drew a one-out walk to put the go-ahead run at the plate. Austin Jackson bounced into what seemed like a game-ending double play, but Jackson was called safe on a close play at first.
Perez, though, made sure it didn't matter, striking out Quintin Berry to give the Indians the win.
Both pitchers gave up a run in the opening inning, McAllister on a Prince Fielder RBI single and Verlander on a Kipnis sacrifice fly.
Detroit went ahead in the fourth on a Jackson seeing-eye RBI single through the left side of the infield, and Delmon Young hit a leadoff homer in the sixth for a 3-1 cushion.
Choo led off the game for Cleveland with a double. He is now 22-for-57 (.386) when he leads off a game for the Indians with seven walks, seven doubles, two triples and five homers. His on-base percentage is .453 in those spots...Verlander extended his six-inning start streak to 63 games. He is six behind Steve Carlton for second since 1918 and 15 behind Bob Gibson...Choo's 32 doubles are second in the AL...Verlander allowed back-to-back homers for the first time since August 27, 2011 against Minnesota. He hadn't given up four runs in an inning since his first start of the season.
07/27 00:34:53 ET
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