Cleveland, OH – Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings and the Detroit Tigers scored early to take a 4-0 win over the Cleveland Indians in the opener of a three-game set.
Detroit still sits one game back of Chicago for the top spot in the AL Central as the White Sox also won on Friday, a 6-0 defeat of Minnesota.
Verlander (14-8) scattered six hits and a walk while striking out six for the win. Austin Jackson and Miguel Cabrera each scored once and drove in a run for the Tigers, who have won three straight.
"He came out there hard and sometimes he exerts himself too much way too early," said Tigers manager Jim Leyland about Verlander. "But, he was able to work himself out of some jams and it worked out for us tonight."
Lonnie Chisenhall had two of the six hits for the Indians, who have lost six of seven. Corey Kluber (1-4) gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings to take the loss.
"I think that more recently it's been that I have a plan on how to attack opposing hitters, but they also have a plan," said Kluber. "I need to do a better job of recognizing that and changing my game, but that's part of learning in the majors."
The Tigers went on top in the first inning. With two outs, Cabrera kept the inning alive with a single and Prince Fielder followed with a base hit. Consecutive singles from Delmon Young and Brennan Boesch each scored a run to give the team a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Alex Avila walked to start the frame then moved to second on an Omar Infante groundout. Jackson then hit a double to right, scoring Avila, and Cabrera hit a single two batters later for a 4-0 lead.
Detroit nearly added another run in the fifth as Boesch doubled with two outs and Jhonny Peralta followed with a single to left. Russ Canzler fielded the ball cleanly and gunned it home with Carlos Santana tagging out Boesch.
Cleveland put men on second and third with no outs in the fifth, but came away empty. Matt LaPorta grounded back to the mound for the first out and Ezequiel Carrera struck out swinging. Jason Donald then hit a hot shot down the first base line, but Fielder made a diving snag and flipped the ball to Verlander for the final out.
The Indians again put runners on second and third in the sixth, this time with one out. Just like the previous inning, though, they came away empty as Canzler flied out to shallow right and Casey Kotchman hit a sharp grounder to third that Cabrera stopped and fired to first for the final out.
Cleveland stranded two more in the seventh, then were set down in order by Joaquin Benoit in the eighth.
Jose Valverde pitched around a one-out walk in the ninth to close the game.
Despite the loss, Cleveland still leads the season series, 9-7 ... The Indians left eight men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position ... Verlander improved to 14-13 in 30 starts against the Indians.