Monday, September 15, 2014
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Tigers extend division lead with win over Indians

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[September 15, 2014]  DETROIT -- It's "Septober," as Torii Hunter calls it, and the Detroit Tigers seem to be firming up their game for the stretch run.

Second baseman Ian Kinsler slammed a two-run home run off right-hander Bryan Shaw in the seventh inning Sunday to lead the Tigers to a 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians and a sweep of their three-game weekend series.

The game-decider was the second served up by Shaw (5-5) in as many games. He gave up catcher Alex Avila's two-run eighth-inning blast Saturday night that earned Detroit a 5-4 win.

Detroit has now won six of seven and is 9-4 in September. Kansas City lost to Boston and is now 1 1/2 games behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central Division. Third-place Cleveland is 6 1/2 out.

"It's Septober, like Torii said Saturday," said Tigers left fielder J.D. Martinez, who hit his 22nd home run in the fourth to create a 1-1 tie. "I've never experienced this before. It's a blast.

"Every day is exciting. Every win seems to mean so much more."

The homer was Martinez's second in three games.

"This one hurt a lot," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "But now we've got to go to Houston -- I think it's Houston -- we've got to gather ourselves in a hurry. I did see some really good things."

Detroit ended 11-8 against Cleveland this season after dominating the Indians a year ago.

"We've played a lot of close games with them this year and we've won a few. But they came back in a lot and won," Francona said. "We've had four or five where we had leads late and they came back and won. Give them credit. They're a good team."

"You start getting big hits in streaks and you start to expect it," Tigers' starting right-hander Justin Verlander said. "Early in the year we had some times where we could have had big hits but didn't do it.

"It becomes a habit. You start to believe it."

The Tigers got two critical add-on runs in the eighth, one on a wild 2-0 pitch by right-hander C.C. Lee during the middle of an intentional walk with runners on second and third, the other on a fielder's choice groundout.

"I've seen that before," said Joe Nathan, who gave up a run in the ninth before finishing up his 32nd save and 17th in his last 18 chances. "But I've never done it."

A single, walk and sacrifice began the eighth and the count was 2-0 on Kinsler in the process of giving him an intentional walk when Lee's pitch sailed high and right over the plate, nicking off leaping catcher Chris Gimenez's glove. The walk was completed and Hunter's fielder's choice groundout to second got in the other run.

"That was a huge play," Francona said. "We were trying to set things up so we could go to Cody (Allen, right-handed closer) and get a force-out. That really made it difficult."

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Lefty Phil Coke (5-2) pitched for the first time since last Wednesday and got the win for a scoreless seventh. Right-hander Joba Chamberlain worked a clean eighth and Nathan the ninth.

Nathan gave up a single and RBI double to first baseman Carlos Santana. A walk put another runner on but a double play and flyout to left ended the game.

Center fielder Rajai Davis beat out a chopped single to shortstop to begin the seventh and Kinsler tagged Shaw's hanging 3-1 pitch to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.

Verlander was removed with two out and two on in the sixth and the Indians took a 3-1 lead with two runs after he left. Left-hander Blaine Hardy walked center fielder Michael Bourn to load the bases and gave up an infield single to shortstop Jose Ramirez that drove in the tie-breaking run and hit left fielder Michael Brantley to force in a second score.

The Tigers pulled to within 3-2 with an unearned run in the sixth, driven in Martinez's RBI single to left center.

Cleveland tied it, 1-1, in the fifth. Bourn walked, went to third on Brantley's ground single to right and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Santana.

NOTES: OF Ryan Raburn was not available to play Sunday after hyperextending his left knee in Saturday night's 5-4 loss to Detroit. ... It is that time of year: C Alex Avila and RF Torii Hunter would normally not start a day game after a night game but because it is September both were in Detroit's lineup. ... Saturday night's 5-4 loss at Detroit, which came via a two-run home run in the eighth by Avila, marked the first time Cleveland had lost a road game this season in which it led after seven innings (25 games). Sunday's was the second. ... The Tigers embark on their last road trip of the regular season Monday, three games at Minnesota followed by three in Kansas City.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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