Cleveland's right-hander walked six over seven innings, but backed by superb defense and a two-out RBI single by Trevor Crowe in the seventh, Carmona and the Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 4-3 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader Saturday.
"Fausto did such a good job without his best stuff and kept putting up zeros until we could get Verlander out of there," Crowe said.
Carmona fell behind 3-0 in the first inning, but got stronger while Verlander faded.
"I tried too much and was overthrowing," Carmona admitted. "The defense really helped me win."
Third baseman Andy Marte started three around-the-horn double plays to thwart Tigers threats in the second, third and fifth. His backhand stop of a smash by Miguel Cabrera in the third helped halt the Detroit slugger's hitting streak at 20 games. Cabrera went 0 for 3 with a walk.
"That was a huge swing inning," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Cabrera hit a bullet down the third-base line with two guys on and it looked like it was going to bring another run in and we would have second and third with no out. Marte made a great play on it. Then they scored two in the bottom half."
Carmona left in the eighth after yielding a leadoff double to Johnny Damon. Joe Smith got Magglio Ordonez to ground out and fanned Cabrera. Left-hander Rafael Perez then retired Brennan Boesch on a groundout.
"Smitty was huge, fantastic," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Carmona walked five over the first three innings, but settled down. He allowed three runs and six hits, striking out three. Acta went to the mound after Carmona walked Damon to open the third. Carmona then walked Ordonez, too, before Marte bailed him out.
"I told Fausto to forget those three early runs because they were gone," Acta said. "He was a little agitated but I said, 'Just calm yourself.' He did and gave us the chance to win."
Verlander fanned nine and walked five over six innings, allowing six hits and three runs. He also threw two wild pitches in the sixth that enabled Cleveland to tie the score at 3.
"For the most part I felt pretty good, but five walks is way too much," Verlander said.
The hard-throwing right-hander struck out three over two hitless innings before the Indians cut it to 3-2 in the third. Jason Donald had an RBI double and scored on a single by Michael Brantley. Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson preserved the lead with a running catch in right-center to take away LaPorta's bid for extra bases with two on and two outs.
Cleveland loaded the bases with one out in the fifth on a single by Brantley and two walks. Verlander then struck out cleanup hitter Travis Hafner on three pitches and fanned LaPorta on a 1-2 pitch in the dirt.
"His curve and changeup were nasty all day," Crowe said. "But we hung in there. This was a good win against a great pitcher."
The Indians loaded the bases again in the sixth. Shelley Duncan singled, went to second on a two-out single by Donald and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Verlander walked Brantley and uncorked another wild pitch, scoring Duncan.
Tigers catcher Alex Avila took the blame.
"It was a slider where it was supposed to be," Avila said. "I just didn't get down in time."
Detroit called up RHP Rick Porcello from Triple-A Toledo to start the second game against Mitch Talbot. The Tigers optioned LHP Daniel Schlereth to Toledo. ... Wood's trip to the DL is the 14th of his career and second this year. ... RHP Jensen Lewis was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to replace Wood. "I left Norfolk (Va.) at 5:30 this morning so this is a real long day, but I wouldn't want it any other way," Lewis said. ... Verlander is 9-10 in his career against Cleveland. He went 4-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four starts against the Indians in 2009. ... Acta said the Indians will call up RHP Jeanmar Gomez on Sunday to make his major league debut. But win or lose, it will only be a spot start. Gomez pitched a perfect game for Double-A Akron last year.