tigers 9, indians 5
CLEVELAND — All good things must come to an end, and, unfortunately for the Indians, a few of them did Saturday night at Jacobs Field.
Dropping a 9-5 decision to the Tigers, Cleveland lost for the first time in six games to the defending American League champs, who also ended the Indians’ string of victories over Central Division rivals at six.
Cleveland’s modest four-game home winning streak was halted as well, but the Indians still own the majors’ best mark at home (19-5) and maintained their first-place standing in the division, leading the Tigers by 3½ games.
It was another brief and ineffective outing for Indians starter Cliff Lee, who lasted just 41/3 innings, allowing five runs on eight hits.
Lee, who was touched up for five doubles and a home run, has worked more than six innings in only one of his seven starts since leaving the disabled list, while allowing less than four runs just twice.
The left-hander has surrendered 16 earned runs in his last three starts, covering 13 2/3 innings, and did not take his latest setback well.
“We lost and I pitched bad again. That’s pretty much it,” Lee said. “I’ve been getting my (expletive) ripped. We’re too good of a team for me to keep pitching like this.”
After putting two aboard in the opening inning but failing to score, the Tigers rapped Lee (2-3, 6.35) for a run in the second and then three in the third on a pair of doubles and a two-run home run from Magglio Ordonez. Ordonez matched a career high with four hits, falling a triple shy of the cycle.
An Ivan Rodriguez RBI double chased Lee in the fifth.
Lee spent the first month of the season on the disabled list with an abdominal strain, but denied he’s still feeling his way back.
“I’m not going to make any excuses for anything,” Lee said. “I’m a major league pitcher and I need to figure out a way to get major league hitters out, regardless of what happened with the injury.”
“We just have to help him get back on track,” said Cleveland manager Eric Wedge. “He wasn’t able to command his fastball, he was behind a lot and his secondary stuff never really came into play.
“We’ve got to get him to a point where he gets it all working together.”
With Lee out, Detroit was not discriminative, scoring three times in the sixth off newly promoted reliever Rafael Perez, who was hurt by two errors that led to all three runs being unearned and an 8-4 Tigers lead.
Cleveland fielders, who have been solid for most of the season, committed three errors on the night, two by shortstop Jhonny Peralta.
“We just had a tough night,” Wedge said. “We just had one of those nights, defensively.”
The Indians lost to a former teammate in right-hander Chad Durbin, who is filling in for an injured Kenny Rogers in the Tigers’ rotation.
Durbin (5-1, 4.75) was far from dominant, allowing five runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, but he outlasted Lee, while his hitters picked him up.
The Indians got the majority of their offensive production from their top two hitters, Grady Sizemore and Casey Blake. The duo combined to go 7-for-9 with three RBIs, four runs and both of Cleveland’s home runs.
Though the Tigers won for just the second time in nine games, manager Jim Leyland and pitcher Justin Verlander weren’t around to celebrate, drawing ejections in the fourth inning.
Verlander, who did not pitch, was tossed for arguing balls and strikes from the Detroit dugout by first base umpire Greg Gibson, the same umpire that ejected Gary Sheffield in the series opener Thursday, with the Tigers’ designated hitter getting hit with a three-game suspension.
After Verlander was ejected, Leyland received the same fate following a brief discussion with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo. Leyland argued on the field for extended minutes before retreating to the dugout and then returning to the field again to argue with Gibson.
Unlike Friday, Detroit’s late lead was safe.
The Indians, who scored five times in the ninth inning to win 12-11 on Friday, went quietly down the stretch Saturday, failing to score over the final three innings.
Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7137 or email@example.com.
WHO: Cleveland vs. Detroit
TIME: 1:05 p.m.
WHERE: Jacobs Field
PITCHERS: Sowers (1-5, 6.29 ERA) vs. Bonderman (4-0, 3.34)
TV/RADIO: SportsTime Ohio; WEOL 930-AM, WTAM 1100-AM