Max Scherzer spun seven strong innings of two-run ball Wednesday as the Detroit Tigers downed the Cleveland Indians, 5-3, in the middle test of a three-game set at Progressive Field.
Scherzer (10-5) surrendered just three hits and four walks with eight strikeouts to earn his fourth consecutive winning decision.
Joaquin Benoit fired a scoreless eighth and Jose Valverde worked around a one- out homer from Travis Hafner to nail down his 19th save of the season.
Quintin Berry registered three hits and two RBI, while Austin Jackson scored twice and also knocked in a run for the Tigers, who have won eight of their last 10 games.
"Tonight he just laid the bat on the ball," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland of Berry. "He's just done a heck of a job for us. I like when he stays within himself like that and doesn't try to do too much."
With the win, Detroit kept paced with the Chicago White Sox, who also won on Wednesday, for first place in the American League Central.
Derek Lowe (8-9) absorbed the loss after giving up five runs -- four earned on eight hits and three walks over six frames.
Casey Kotchman clubbed a two-run homer, but the Indians had their brief two- game winning streak snapped.
The Tigers wasted little time getting to Lowe in the first as Jackson, Berry and Miguel Cabrera stroked consecutive singles to start the game.
Cabrera's base hit, a line drive into right field, plated Jackson from second to give the visitors a 1-0 edge.
Alex Avila clubbed a one-out double off the wall in left-center field in the second before the Tigers took advantage of a pair of miscues from Cleveland shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera to plate a pair.
Asdrubal Cabrera's first error allowed Omar Infante to reach base as his throw pulled Kotchman off the first-base bag to put runners on the corners.
Jackson then followed with a grounder to Asdrubal Cabrera, who attempted to start a double play, but his throw was wild, allowing Avila to score.
Berry stepped up next and scorched a single through the left side to plate Infante for a 3-0 Detroit lead.
Cleveland battled back in the third as Johnny Damon led off the frame with a walk and Kotchman followed with a blast over the wall in right-center field to bring the Indians within 3-2.
Lowe struggled with some command issues in the fifth as he walked the first three batters of the frame to load the bases for Prince Fielder, who lofted a sacrifice fly into center field to plate Jackson for a 4-2 lead.
"They're a good lineup," said Lowe of the Tigers. "Any time you have a good lineup, walking the bases loaded is probably not going to get you anywhere positive."
Avila led off the sixth with a single and found himself on third after back- to-back groundouts before Berry ripped a two-out single into left field to extend Detroit's lead to 5-2.
In the ninth, Hafner ripped a 1-0 fastball into the right-field seats to bring the Tribe within two runs, but Valverde got Damon and Kotchman to ground out to complete the victory.
Scherzer improved to 5-4 with in 10 career starts versus the Tribe...Lowe dropped to 7-4 in 31 appearances (12 starts) against the Tigers...Cleveland is now 6-2 against Detroit this season...Cleveland had gone seven consecutive days without being charged an error.