By TOM WITHERS/AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer and Max Scherzer retired 22 straight batters after the first inning, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 5-1 win over Cleveland on Tuesday night to stop the Indians’ winning streak at five and trim their lead in the AL Central.
Cabrera’s laser shot in the sixth inning off Corey Kluber (3-3) helped the Tigers win for just the second time in six games. The defending AL champions also moved within 1 1-2 games of the first-place Indians, who have won 18 of 23 since April 28.
Scherzer (6-0) gave up two singles and a run in the first before shutting down baseball’s hottest team for eight innings. The right-hander walked just one and struck out seven, including the final four he faced. Scherzer’s 118th and last pitch was his fastest – a 98 mph heater to fan Drew Stubbs.
Scherzer gave the Tigers a much-needed outing and set the stage for Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who will pitch Tuesday night.
Andy Dirks hit a solo homer in the sixth and had two RBIs as Detroit won the first game of the short, showdown series.
In the first, Scherzer was touched for a leadoff single by Michael Bourn, a one-out base hit by Asdrubal Cabrera and a hard-hit sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley before he made the Indians look silly. He mixed his pitches, had Cleveland’s hitters off-balance and grew stronger as the game went on.
Scherzer, who won five straight starts before getting a no-decision in his last outing against Houston, didn’t get much support but was so good he didn’t need it.
Before the game, Indians manager Terry Francona said there’s a danger in trying to pitch around Cabrera because Detroit has plenty of other dangerous hitters in its lineup.
“I guarantee you if you pitch around him all day, they’re going to score,” he said.
Kluber went right at Mr. Triple Crown his first two times up, and retired Cabrera on a grounder to third in the first and routine fly to center in the fourth.
But in the sixth, Cabrera, who homered three times in a loss at Texas on Sunday, did what he does best.
Dirks opened the inning with his fifth homer, a drive into the right-field seats to tie it 1-all. Torii Hunter followed with a double that one-hopped the wall in right, bringing up Cabrera with first base open.
Francona elected to have Kluber to pitch to Cabrera, who rocketed an 0-1 fastball over the center-field fence to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Detroit added two runs in the ninth on RBI singles by Dirks and Prince Fielder.
The Indians were missing first baseman Nick Swisher, who was placed on the paternity list before the game after his wife, JoAnna, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
With Swisher out, Brantley batted cleanup for the first time this season and his sacrifice fly in the first gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Bourn led off with a grounder through the box off Scherzer and raced to third on Asdrubal Cabrera’s broken-bat single with one out. Brantley followed with a liner to right-center that was run down by Hunter but was deep enough to score the speedy Bourn easily.
That was it for the Indians, though, as Scherzer shut them down.