Jhonny Peralta launched a go-ahead home run in 4, to close out the regular season for both teams.
Although the Tigers got the win, the Rangers defeated the Angels 3-1 on Wednesday night to secure the No. 2 seed in the American League playoffs.
Detroit opens postseason play Friday night at 8:37 p.m. (et) at New York. The two teams last met in the playoffs in the 2006 ALDS, when the Tigers defeated the Yankees in four games.
"It's been a great season for us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Now we start a new season and we'll see how we do. The postseason is a whole new game."
Ryan Perry (2-0) came on in the top of the eighth with a 4-3 lead and allowed the game-tying run to score, but still picked up the win for the Tigers, who finished the season 95-67. They won their last four contests and five of six to close the year.
Jose Valverde finished the regular season 49-for-49 in saves as he closed the door in the ninth.
Vinnie Pestano (1-2) gave up the go-ahead homer to Peralta to absorb the loss for the Indians, who concluded the year with a 80-82 mark. They finished the season with four straight losses.
"I was just trying to get ahead," Pestano said."Right-handers haven't fared all that well against me this year, so I felt confident throwing him a first pitch fastball and he jumped on it and had enough to put it out."
The Indians struck first in the third when Ezequiel Carrera tripled to left to score Matt LaPorta, who reached with a one-out walk.
Jack Hannahan slapped an RBI single to left to plate Asdrubal Cabrera in the top of the fourth. Wilson Betemit then committed a throwing error on Laporta's grounder, allowing Travis Hafner to score, as the Indians grabbed a 3-0 advantage.
After Betemit laced a leadoff triple off the right field wall to start the home seventh, pinch-runner Danny Worth scored on a wild pitch to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
Hafner poked a one-out double to left in the eighth, while Carlos Santana and Shelly Duncan walked to load the bases. Hannahan lifted a sacrifice fly to right to even the score once again.
With seven punchouts by Tigers pitching in the game, they tied the 1968 franchise mark of 1,115 total strikeouts in a season...Detroit finishes the year 50-31 at home while Cleveland concludes with a 36-45 mark on the road.