CLEVELAND (AP) -- If they're not careful, the Detroit Tigers are
going to get caught by their tails.
Rookie Joe Inglett's two-run triple off Justin Verlander
highlighted Cleveland's six-run fifth inning that sent the Indians
to an 8-5 win Saturday night over the Tigers, who have lost four
straight and maybe their stranglehold on the AL Central.
The Tigers led the division by 10 games on Aug. 7, and were
threatening to run away with the title. But after losing seven of
nine and going 5-13 since Aug. 9, their lead is less than five
games for the first time since July 19.
On Friday, manager Jim Leyland warned his team "to step it
up." Following their latest loss, Leyland didn't say a word to the
Tigers. And judging by the somber mood in Detroit's clubhouse
afterward, he didn't have to.
"We're just in one of those little streaks right now," Leyland
said. "You pitch good and you don't hit or you hit and don't pitch
good. That's not a combination conducive to winning games. It's
going to happen when you play 162."
Several of the Tigers gathered in front of a large-screen TV to
watch highlights of their game and updates on the Twins and White
Sox. The loudest sound in the room were forks clanging off dinner
plates as the players dug into their postgame spread.
"We're in a bit of a drought right now," Verlander said. "I
don't think anyone here is scared of anything."
Jake Westbrook (11-8) gutted out seven innings, allowing five
runs and 12 hits to win for the fourth time in five starts. He
walked three, didn't record a strikeout and was helped by three
Jason Michaels had three hits off Verlander (15-7), scored twice
and made a diving catch in left for the Indians, who have won eight
straight at Jacobs Field.
Craig Monroe homered for the slumping Tigers.
Trailing 5-2, the Indians scored six times to chase Verlander,
the hard-throwing rookie who was in line for his 16th win but lost
for the third time in four starts.
After Grady Sizemore singled and Michaels hit a ground-rule
double, Verlander struck out Travis Hafner with a 100 mph fastball.
Ryan Garko, though, followed by slicing a two-run double to right,
and after Shin-Soo Choo singled, Jhonny Peralta's broken-bat RBI
single tied it 5-5.
The scrappy Inglett then fouled off three straight 3-2 pitches
before lining a triple into center, giving the Indians a 7-5 lead
and bringing Leyland out of the dugout to get the ball from
"I got the bat out front and hit it where they weren't,"
Inglett said. "He split the plate and I got it."
Leyland chalked up Verlander's sudden ineffectiveness to
"He may have tried to do too much," Leyland said. "Maybe he
was trying a little too hard. The kid is fantastic and you figure
out things as you go along."
Verlander gave up a season-high eight runs and 10 hits in 4 2/3
innings -- his shortest outing since April 13.
Westbrook dodged trouble in the first and third by getting
Magglio Ordonez to bounce into double plays. But the Tigers right
fielder came through in the fifth as his two-run single gave
Detroit a 5-2 lead.
Down 2-0, the Indians had tied it with a pair of runs in the
third on Michaels' RBI double and a run-scoring single by Hafner,
who had his career-high 14-game hitting streak snapped on Friday.
Detroit's offense has been in a funk for two weeks. The Tigers
entered the game having scored just 50 runs in their past 15 games.
But Monroe put them up 1-0 early by connecting for his 22nd homer
with one out in the first.
Brandon Inge's RBI single made it 2-0 in the second.
Reliever Fausto Carmona, a bust as Cleveland's closer, was sent to Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday by the Indians, who plan to bring him back in a few weeks as a starter. Edward Mujica was recalled from the Bisons to take Carmona's spot. "He's gotten into some bad delivery habits," GM Mark Shapiro said. "He's unable to command his fastball. We feel this is the best path to get him back in position to help us next year." A crowd of 29,138 -- bolstered by thousands of Tigers fans --
witnessed the 2,000th game between Detroit and Cleveland. The
Tigers lead the all-time series 1,014-986. ... Cleveland's home
winning streak is its longest since winning nine in a row last
season. ... Following the game, fans watched the feel-good baseball
flick "Field of Dreams" on the stadium's giant TV scoreboard. For
$10, fans could get a beach towel, bucket of popcorn and sit in the
outfield grass. ... Indians media relations director Bart Swain
sustained a broken finger and dislocated wrist when was hit by a
car while riding his bike near his home in Avon Lake, Ohio. He's
shaken but OK -- and day to day.