Cleveland, OH – Alex Avila clubbed the go-ahead three-run homer off Chris Perez in the ninth inning, and the Detroit Tigers posted their season-high ninth consecutive victory, 4-2, over the second-place Indians.
Cleveland, which entered this big four-game set with an 11-game home winning streak, suffered its second loss in 12 overall contests. The Indians fell four games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.
Corey Kluber pitched into the eighth inning, and the Indians got early runs on hits from Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana, but Perez (4-2) suffered his third blown save of the season and first since May 18 versus Seattle.
Prince Fielder doubled to left field to start the ninth and then scored on Victor Martinez's line base hit to left to get the Tigers within a run. Hernan Perez pinch-ran for Martinez and Andy Dirks walked before Avila homered on a 1-0 pitch to left-center.
"It's important to see how he goes after other guys, but also to see how good his command is and what he is using to get guys out with," Avila said. "With him, like most guys, he's a two-pitch guy, fastball and slider. He was struggling with his command a little bit."
The Indians immediately went back to their bullpen and pulled Perez in favor of Cody Allen. Detroit filled the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Marc Rzepczynski retired Fielder on a ground ball to second.
Joaquin Benoit retired the side in order in the ninth for his 13th save. Al Alburquerque (2-2) got the final out of the eighth after the Indians put two runners on base.
Kluber surrendered six hits and a walk while posting six strikeouts, while Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez fanned 11 over 7 2/3 frames.
"We have to win those games," Indians outfielder Michael Bourn said. "That's a tough team over there, but that's a swing game, especially the way Kluber pitched tonight."
The Tigers were noticeably without shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who was given a 50-game suspension for his ties with the Biogenesis scandal. Peralta was one of 12 players disciplined for being involved with Biogenesis of America, a now defunct Miami-area based anti-aging clinic suspected of distributing performance-enhancing substances.
"In spring of 2012, I made a terrible mistake that I deeply regret," Peralta said in a statement. "I apologize to everyone that I have hurt as a result of my mistake, including my teammates, the Tigers' organization, the great fans in Detroit, Major League Baseball, and my family. I take full responsibility for my actions, have no excuses for my lapse in judgment and I accept my suspension. I love the fans, my teammates and this organization and my greatest punishment is knowing that I have let so many good people down. I promise to do everything possible to try and earn back the respect that I have lost."
The Tigers were retired in order in the seventh, thanks in part to a pair of sparkling defensive plays. Martinez lined out to a leaping Drew Stubbs in right field, and second baseman Jason Kipnis made a spectacular stop on the ball headed up the middle from Dirks.
Ramon Santiago singled with one out in the eighth. Kluber exited to a standing ovation, but Joe Smith gave up an infield hit to Austin Jackson on a dribbler to third. Torii Hunter's hit then dropped in front of Stubbs, but Jackson was caught in a rundown between second and third and was tagged out. Miguel Cabrera then grounded weakly to second.
Michael Brantley singled and stole second before scoring on Giambi's two-out single to center in the second inning. Brantley singled in the third and scored on Santana's double off the wall in right-center.
The Tigers have beaten the Indians in nine of the last 10 meetings and are up 10-3 in the season series ... The Tigers have their longest winning streak since posting 12 consecutive victories Sept. 2-14, 2011 ... Detroit braced for Peralta's potential absence by acquiring infielder Jose Iglesias from the Boston Red Sox last week. Iglesias went 1-for-4 Monday ... Jackson robbed Lonnie Chisenhall of a potential homer to end the second inning.