Ryan Garko went 4-for-4 with five RBIs, rookie Scott Lewis won his third straight start and the Indians moved over .500 for the first time in more than four months with their sixth straight victory, 10-5 over the sloppy and seemingly disinterested Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Garko hit a bases-loaded triple in the first inning off Dontrelle Willis (0-2), added a sacrifice fly in the fourth and a RBI double in the seventh as the Indians won their final home game and completed a sweep of a testy three-game series that began with a benches-clearing brawl on Friday night.
On July 9, the Indians (78-77) were a season-high 16 games under .500 and 16 out of first place in the AL Central. Since then, Cleveland has gone 41-24 and now owns a record showing more wins than losses for the first time since the Indians were 22-21 on May 17.
The impressive runs, though, won't be enough to return Cleveland to the postseason.
"To get back to .500 is nice," Garko said. "But I'd much rather be talking about the playoffs."
On Wednesday night, Lee was denied his 23rd win and wound up with a no-decision against Minnesota. The left-hander and front-runner to win the Cy Young sprinted from the mound in the seventh to a thunderous ovation. However, Lee never came out for a curtain call, saying he was too upset at giving up a pair of runs to notice the cheering fans.
He finally took his bow in the ninth inning Sunday, raising his cap way over his head for all to see.
Lewis (3-0), who has had to overcome arm injuries throughout his career, allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings. The left-hander brought in a 14-inning scoreless streak and extended it to 15 before the Tigers scored in the second. Lewis' third straight solid outing is another plus for the Indians, who have continued to play hard in an injury-soured season that hasn't gone the way they had hoped.
"We've had a lot of adversity," manager Eric Wedge said. "But these guys never gave into it and finished strong."
This hasn't been the 2008 the Tigers envisioned either.
After adding Willis, Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria to an already loaded lineup with trades during the offseason, Detroit began the season as the consensus favorite to win the Central. But now a season-high 12 games under .500 and fighting to stay out of last place in the division, the Tigers have grossly underachieved and went through the motions in their final road game.
Detroit was charged with four wild pitches -- three by Willis -- walked nine, made two errors, misplayed a few balls and lost for the ninth time in 10 games.
At least manager Jim Leyland didn't have to watch it from the dugout as he served the final game of a three-game suspension.
The teams tangled in the series opener, a melee sparked by Detroit's Gary Sheffield charging the mound after Indians starter Fausto Carmona hit him with a pitch. Four players were ejected in the scuffle and there has been a lot trash talk since, especially from Sheffield, who has vowed revenge on a few Indians who took swings at him and called out catcher Victor Martinez.
Sheffield, who is certain to be suspended along with a few others by Major League Baseball on Monday, took his time walking to the plate in the first. He spent a little extra time digging into the batter's box dirt with his spikes directly in front of Martinez, who came out of his crouch and did some housecleaning himself.
There were no further incidents and the teams will have to resolve any lingering disputes next year.
Willis, who has had a disastrous first season in Detroit, couldn't find the strike zone during a 33-pitch first, when he walked four and fell behind 3-0.
The left-hander walked Martinez to load the bases and Garko unloaded them with his second career triple, a drive that split the gap in right-center. Willis was charged with six runs, five hits and six walks in 2 1/3 innings.
"I didn't get the job done," Willis said. "I was battling my control. That's pretty much the game. I'm going to keep fighting and try to get guys out."
Cleveland has won seven in a row over Detroit. ... Indians OF Franklin Gutierrez wasn't feeling well and was a late scratch. ... The Tigers finished 34-46 on the road. ... The Indians, who will finish with four games in Boston and three in Chicago, went 45-36 at Progressive Field, known as Jacobs Field until this season. Last year, Cleveland went 51-29 at home. ... Indians CF Grady Sizemore had a rough day. He struck out four times and was hit by a pitch.