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Tigers beat Indians in 'best win of year'
CLEVELAND -- The Detroit Tigers finished off a four-game series in Cleveland in dramatic style, and in the process put some more distance between themselves and the Cleveland Indians.
Victor Martinez's two-out, two-run double in the 10th inning lifted the Tigers to a 4-2 win over the Indians Monday night.
Central Division-leading Detroit won three of four games in the series to pull 3 1/2 games ahead of second-place Cleveland.
"We came in and had a very good series against a very good team, but I'm not really concerned about the standings," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "Of course, I'd rather leave here up 3 1/2 games than up 1 1/2 games. But trust me, they (the Indians) are not going anywhere, and we're not going anywhere, I don't think."
With two outs and nobody on base in the top of the 10th, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder both drew walks from Cleveland reliever Matt Albers (2-1). Martinez then doubled over the head of center fielder Michael Bourn to score both runners, giving the Tigers a 4-2 lead.
"That's a difficult position to be in," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona. "You're facing some very dangerous hitters. The way they can swing the bat you don't want to make a mistake to any of them, but if you walk them a hit can hurt you."
The win went to reliever Drew Smyly (4-0), who escaped a jam in the bottom of the ninth, when Cleveland had a runner at second and no outs. Joaquin Benoit gave up two hits in the bottom of the 10th but struck out Mike Aviles to seal his seventh save.
Both starting pitchers exited with the score 2-2.
Detroit's Max Scherzer, who was unable to improve on his 13-0 record, pitched seven innings and gave up two runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked three.
"We made him work, but he has a lot of weapons," Francona said. "He can throw 97-98 when he needs to, throws to a lot of different locations, and he doesn't walk anyone."
Cleveland starter Scott Kazmir pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits. He fanned five and walked three.
"With those guys there is no room for error. You just try to attack the zone and get them in swing mode," said Kazmir of the middle of the Detroit lineup.
Kazmir said he knew he had to bring the best he has when matched up against Scherzer.
"He's a great pitcher. You can see why he's 13-0," Kazmir said.
Detroit took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when two ex-Indians combined to produce a run. With one out, Martinez and Jhonny Peralta belted back-to-back doubles to give the Tigers an early lead.
Cleveland went ahead 2-1 during a rain-interrupted bottom of the second inning. Michael Brantley reached on a one-out bunt single, and he went to second on a single by Aviles. Following a double steal that put runners at second and third, Mark Reynolds struck out for the second out.
With the count 2-2 on Lonnie Chisenhall, the game was interrupted for 20 minutes by rain. When play resumed, Chisenhall hit Scherzer's first pitch into right field for a two-run single.
The Tigers tied it in the fourth inning on a solo home run by Matt Tuiasosopo.
Scherzer and three relievers combined to hold Cleveland scoreless on seven hits over the last eight innings.
"This was our best win of the year, and I was proud to be a part of it," Scherzer said. "They (Indians) battled so hard tonight and brought their 'A' game, and we did, too. It was just a great team win, our best of the year."
NOTES: 3B Miguel Cabrera had 125 hits in the Tigers' first 87 games. That's the most hits in Detroit's first 87 games since Al Kaline had 129 in 1955. Cabrera went 0-for-3 with two walks Monday. ... Struggling Indians RHP Vinnie Pestano is being moved out of his eighth-inning setup role. Manager Terry Francona said RHPs Joe Smith and Cody Allen would get the bulk of the eighth-inning assignments while Pestano pitches earlier in games. ... Cleveland RHP Zach McAllister pitched a three-inning simulated game Monday afternoon. McAllister, on the disabled list since June 8 with a sprained right middle finger, could be activated shortly after the All-Star break.