Detroit, MI – Don Kelly clubbed a tie-breaking, three-run homer in the sixth inning to help Jose Alvarez earn a victory in his major league debut, as the Detroit Tigers completed a three-game sweep of the Cleveland Indians with a 4-1 decision Sunday at Comerica Park.
Alvarez (1-0), who was called upon to start after Anibal Sanchez was scratched with a stiff shoulder, struck out seven while limiting the Indians to one run on three hits and a walk over six solid frames.
"I felt good," Alvarez said. "Maybe in the first inning I was a little excited, a little nervous. But like I said, I tried to control that as much as I could, then after that I focused on the game and gained some confidence."
Drew Smyly spun a pair of scoreless innings in relief before Joaquin Benoit worked around a one-out double in the ninth to nail down his third save.
Prince Fielder finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Alex Avila knocked in the other run for the Tigers, who have won four straight to push their lead over the Indians to 5 1/2 games atop the AL Central.
Justin Masterson (8-5) was tagged for all four runs on six hits and three walks over seven innings to absorb the loss.
Ryan Raburn's seventh homer of the year accounted for the lone run of the game for the skidding Indians, who have lost 11 straight on the road and a season- high seven in a row overall.
Avila's sacrifice fly in the second staked the Tigers to a 1-0 lead, while Alvarez held the Indians hitless over his first 4 2/3 frames.
Cleveland's first hit of the day produced its only run, as Raburn launched a two-out solo shot into the left-field seats in the fifth to tie the game at 1-1.
Alvarez then ran into trouble in the sixth when Jason Kipnis and Nick Swisher smacked consecutive two-out singles, but the young southpaw escaped unscathed by getting Mark Reynolds to ground out to second.
The Tigers then jumped on top in the bottom half, as Miguel Cabrera worked a leadoff walk and Fielder followed with a base hit to right.
After Victor Martinez popped out, Kelly clubbed a 1-2 slider over the right- field wall to give Detroit a 4-1 cushion.
"I don't even think it was a mistake," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He (Masterson) actually threw a ball down and in that was a ball. It got into his swing path and it got out of the ballpark. That ended up being the difference."
Smyly then stifled the Tribe over the next two frames before Benoit closed the door in the ninth to secure the victory.
Swisher's single in the sixth broke an 0-for-26 slump ... The Indians have lost 11 straight road games in the same season for the first time since June 21-July 12, 1991 when the club dropped 12 consecutive contests away from home ... Alvarez had his contract purchased from Triple-A Toledo prior to the game ... Alvarez is the first Tigers pitcher to register a win in his major league debut since Alfredo Figaro did so versus Milwaukee on June 20, 2009.