Published June 15, 2011
DETROIT – The Detroit Tigers are leaving the Motor City on a roll. Their manager, Jim Leyland, refuses to get too excited about it.
Jhonny Peralta and Ryan Raburn hit back-to-back, solo homers in the fourth inning and Detroit went on to beat the Cleveland Indians 6-2 Thursday.
The Tigers, who won twice in the three-game series to move a game ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central, have won 13 of their last 18 games going into an interleague road trip against Colorado and Los Angeles.
"We've got a little something going," Leyland said. "But it's such a long grind. I don't get carried away."
Victor Martinez isn't ready to make postseason plans, either, but he's enjoying the team's surge in the standings.
"It's always exciting when you win," Martinez said. "It doesn't matter if it's April, May, June, August or September."
On May 23, the Indians had a seven-game lead in the division after winning twice as many as they had lost. But Cleveland has collapsed — in part because slugger Travis Hafner is on the disabled list — with 16 losses in its last 22 games.
The Indians will make the short trip home to play Pittsburgh and Colorado, two teams hovering around the .500 mark, and manager Manny Acta is hoping for a turnaround.
"We must have a good homestand," Acta said. "If we want to snap out of this, we must play well at home."
The Tigers closed their homestand 5-3, improving their mark this year at Comerica Park to 22-14, and hope to move above .500 on the road.
"I'm definitely excited that we're playing well," catcher Alex Avila said. "We're just trying to keep that up."
Max Scherzer (9-3) gave up two runs — both in the first — and four hits over 5 2-3 innings.
"That first inning, he made some mistakes and they hit the ball hard," Avila said. "After that, he settled in. A lot of guys like with him with overpowering stuff, you either get them early or they shut you down."
Detroit's Al Alburquerque, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde combined to throw 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief.
Mitch Talbot (2-4) allowed six runs on nine hits and two walks over four innings.
"This was just one of those days where I had nothing to offer," he said. "I felt pretty good in the bullpen, but I got to the game mound, and it all went away."
Frank Herrmann pitched three innings and Joe Smith threw one without giving up a run, but Cleveland couldn't come back offensively.
The Indians got off to good start with two runs in the first inning, getting some help from Raburn's error.
Michael Brantley hit a two-out triple and scored on Raburn's errant relay throw. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a double and scored on Shin-Soo Choo's triple to put Cleveland up 2-0.
The Tigers quickly tied the game in bottom half of the first. Austin Jackson led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Don Kelly's RBI single. Martinez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-all.
With two outs, Peralta and Raburn hit homers to put Detroit ahead 4-2. Miguel Cabrera and Martinez had RBI singles in the fifth to pad the Tigers' lead.
Notes: Tigers 3B Brandon Inge (mononucleosis) was scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Thursday and is expected to be activated June 24 against Arizona. ... The Indians are 2-10 at Comerica Park since the start of last season. ... Asdrubal Cabrera made a highlight-worthy, inning-ending double play in the first, catching a liner and making a slick, behind-the-back toss to second baseman Cord Phelps. ... Leyland reiterated his position that baseball should pick AL or NL rules. "The AFC and NFC don't play with different rules," Leyland said. "The NBA doesn't change things between the East and the West. They added the DH a long time ago to boost offense, and now they should go one way or the other with it." ... The Indians lost for just the fourth time in 19 games when they score in the first inning. ... Alburquerque hasn't given up a run in any of his last 10 appearances.