DETROIT -- When Detroit lost two straight to the struggling Cleveland Indians, Tigers manager Jim Leyland vowed to keep an even keel.
After a big win to wrap up the series, Leyland conceded one thing: This upcoming 10-game road trip is big."When everybody else knows the importance of it, obviously the players, the manager and the coaches know the importance of it," Leyland said. "The fans know. I'm sure they'll be watching, and there will be some late nights for them, maybe when we're in Anaheim. Then off to Chicago."Yeah, I don't think you can downplay it."Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Prince Fielder added a solo shot in the eighth to help the Tigers avoid a three-game sweep with a 7-1 victory on Wednesday night.Detroit remained one game behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central. On Friday night, the Tigers start a stretch of 10 straight away from home -- three against the Los Angeles Angels, four against the White Sox and three against Cleveland."Our fate's in our own hands," Detroit right-hander Doug Fister said. "We control our own destiny, we just have to take care of what we do."Fister (8-8) allowed a run and four hits in seven innings. He struck out six and walked one.Ubaldo Jimenez (9-15) gave up four runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings. He was generally sharp after allowing Cabrera's 35th homer of the year, but Detroit tacked on five runs in the eighth to break it open.The Tigers lost consecutive 3-2 games to start this series.Fister has been on the disabled list twice this season and also missed a start on Aug. 25 because of an injury. He has had Cleveland's number lately, though. In his last seven starts against the Indians, he's 5-1 with a 1.54 ERA.Detroit is hoping for another big September from Fister. He went 5-0 with a 0.53 ERA in the month last year.If Fister can stay healthy and provide quality outings, the Tigers could have a formidable trio of starters for their playoff chase -- with Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer also looking impressive.Austin Jackson led off the Detroit first with a single. One out later, Cabrera homered to right.Cleveland cut the margin in half in the fourth on an RBI single by Michael Brantley, who has hit safely in 16 straight games against Detroit.Jimenez became the first major leaguer in 2012 to reach 15 losses. It looked like he might pitch his first complete game since coming to Cleveland in a midseason trade last year, but he was pulled in the eighth after Andy Dirks hit an RBI triple."We played a good series, and not just because we won it," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "I'm happy because of the way we pitched. We only had one bad inning in three games, and that was the last one. That's encouraging going forward."Dirks scored on a sacrifice fly by Cabrera. Fielder followed with his 24th homer of the season, and Jhonny Peralta made it 7-1 with a two-run double."To put up six or five or whatever we did in that inning, it was good," Dirks said. "We know we're capable of doing it, but when it comes together and it happens, it kind of gives you a little bit of relief."While the game was still close, Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit walked Ezequiel Carrera to start the top of the eighth and fell behind 2-0 to pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman. After a visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones, Benoit got Kotchman to hit a routine fly to center.Shin-soo Choo then grounded into a double play.
Cleveland 3B Jason Donald was called out by umpire Jim Joyce on a very close play at first in the fifth. Joyce infamously called Donald safe at first in a game at Detroit in 2010, costing Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. ... Donald made a terrific catch in foul ground on Brennan Boesch's popup in the fourth, holding on while tumbling over the railing and into the crowd. A young woman appeared shaken up but was able to walk away.
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DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers celebrates a first inning home run with...