Choo, Sowers power Indians past Tigers without incident

CLEVELAND -- With the exception of the boos that rained down on Gary Sheffield, all was quiet at Progressive Field on Saturday night.

While Sheffield was the center of attention one night after his role in a bench-clearing brawl, both teams stuck to baseball.

There was only one hit batter that didn't cause an incident in Cleveland's 6-3 victory over Detroit.

"It was good for both teams that we were able to play baseball," Indians manager Eric Wedge said, likely summing up the feeling of everyone.

Sheffield, one of the main principals in the fight, was in the starting lineup. Booed during pregame introductions and during every at-bat, the Tigers designated hitter was 2-for-4.

"I don't worry about that," Sheffield said of the boos. "When you're the DH, you need some excitement. That gave me some excitement."

Shin-Soo Choo and Jeremy Sowers provided some excitement for the Indians. Choo continued his strong September and Sowers pitched six solid innings to help the Indians move to .500 for the first time since May 18.

Cleveland, which won the AL Central last season, was 37-53 on July 9. The Indians are now 77-77 with eight games left in the season.

"It's a hell of an accomplishment for this ballclub, considering where we were and how hard these guys had to work," Wedge said. "It shows how much fire they have."

Choo, who is batting .448 (26-for-58) with 17 RBIs in 18 games this month, drove in two runs with a bases-loaded single in the fourth. He was 2-for-2 with two walks, raising his average to .310.

"When I get up and there are runners on base, I am just trying to help the team whatever way I can," Choo said. "If there are runners on base, I try to bring them in."

Sowers (4-8) gave up a first-inning run, but held the Tigers to two hits over his final five innings. Jensen Lewis pitched the ninth for his 11th save.

"I had better command as the game went on," Sowers said. "I wasn't pitching that bad in the first couple innings. My command was off."

Asdrubal Cabrera added a two-run single in the seventh for the Indians.

Justin Verlander (10-17) allowed four runs in four innings, throwing 97 pitches.

"Justin struggled with his command," Tigers acting manager Lloyd McClendon said. "We had no choice but to go to the bullpen earlier than we wanted to."

Other than struggling with his curveball, Verlander didn't have a problem with his performance.

"This by far is the best stuff I've had at this point in the season," he said.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland sat out the second of his three-game suspension for his actions toward the umpires during a series with Texas last week. Leyland also will miss Sunday's game.

Friday night's trouble started when Indians right-hander Fausto Carmona hit Sheffield with a pitch in the seventh inning. The two fought near the mound, prompting both dugouts and bullpens to empty. Four players, including Carmona and Sheffield, were ejected. Following the game, Sheffield criticized several Indians players, including catcher Victor Martinez, one of the ejected players.

Sheffield doubled in the first, bounced into a double play in the third, flied out in the sixth and singled in the eighth. Martinez, still recovering from surgery on his right elbow, didn't play -- a planned day off, according Wedge. Martinez is scheduled to catch Sunday.

Verlander hit Jamey Carroll in the back with an 0-1 pitch with one out in the first. Carroll quickly went to first base. The hit batter eventually cost the Tigers a run. After a walk and a wild pitch, Carroll scored on Jhonny Peralta's groundout.

Verlander balked in a run in the second. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth before Choo singled to right.

Magglio Ordonez's RBI groundout in the first gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer off Rafael Perez in the seventh. Cabrera responded with a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.

Game notes
1B Miguel Cabrera was 1-for-4 and is hitting .343 (25-for-73) against Cleveland this season. ... Ordonez, who was second in the AL in batting going into the game, was 0-for-4 ... Lewis is 11-for-12 in save opportunities. ... Ryan Garko had three hits for Cleveland. ... Sunday is the Indians' last home game of the season. Cleveland begins a trip to Boston and Chicago on Monday.