Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer, while Andy Dirks added a solo shot and two RBI as Detroit downed Cleveland, 5-1, in the first of a two-game set.
Prince Fielder knocked in the other run and Victor Martinez contributed three hits for the Tigers, who had dropped four of five coming in.
Max Scherzer (6-0) worked eight strong innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out seven with one walk. He retired the final 22 batters he faced after giving up Cleveland's lone run in the bottom of the first inning, including a 98 m.p.h. fastball to Drew Stubbs to complete his outing.
"He knew that was going to be it," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He really cranked it up. That was pretty impressive."
Michael Bourn finished with two hits and scored the lone run on Michael Brantley's sacrifice fly for the Indians, whose five-game win streak came to an end.
Corey Kluber (3-3) lasted 6 1/3 frames in defeat, allowing eight hits and three runs despite fanning eight.
Dirks began the sixth with a solo homer, and after Torii Hunter doubled, Cabrera's two-run shot put Detroit up 3-1.
"With nobody out, you're asking for trouble," Francona said of his decision to pitch to last season's Triple Crown winner. "If you walk him and you have first and second with nobody out, you're putting your pitcher in a tough spot."
The Tigers pushed two more runs across in the ninth to seal the victory. Alex Avila drew a one-out walk off David Huff, then Omar Infante and Dirks hit back-to-back singles to provide a 4-1 margin.
Matt Albers took the mound to retire Hunter on a grounder which moved both runners into scoring position. After Cabrera was given a free pass to load the bases, Fielder's base hit scored Infante for a four-run bulge.
Jose Valverde then stranded two runners in the bottom of the ninth by inducing a game-ending pop out from Carlos Santana.
Bourn kicked off the home first with a single, went to third on a one-out hit from Asdrubal Cabrera then crossed the plate on Brantley's fly to right field.
Scherzer could do little wrong from there and struck out the last four batters he faced.
The Tigers improved to 7-2 when Scherzer takes the mound this season ... The 28-year-old right-hander tied a career best by winning six decisions from the start of a season without a loss, equaling the commencement to his 2011 campaign ... Infante added two hits in the Detroit victory ... Prior to the game, the Tigers purchased the contract of pitcher Luke Putkonen from Triple-A Toledo ... Cleveland pitchers fanned 14 Tigers in the setback.