Zach McAllister was tagged early and the Tigers beat Cleveland for the 17th time in their last 21 meetings, 7-2 Friday night in a game called after seven innings because of rain.
The AL Central-leading Tigers opened a 7½-game lead over the second-place Indians.
“We’re all aware of what our record is. We don’t go into any game not thinking we’re going to win,” Francona said. “The reason they’re beating us is they’re good.”
The game turned on two defensive plays, one Detroit was able to make and one Cleveland couldn’t execute.
The Indians took a 1-0 lead in the first on a spectacular double play started by Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias. With runners on first and third and none out, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a one-hop liner that Iglesias snared with a dive to his right. He then made the throw to second baseman Omar Infante while still on the ground and rolling over.
“The kid made one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. We’ve got runners on first and third and none out, then that,” Francona said. “We got a run out of it. But we would have had still had two on and none out … that hurt.”
The play Cleveland couldn’t make came in the third with the Tigers leading 2-1 with the bases loaded and one out.
Victor Martinez hit a two-run double that center fielder Michael Bourn lost in the twilight.
“I saw it off the bat, I knew it was coming to me. From there, I didn’t see it,” Bourn said. “Obviously, I was pretty far away from it. … That was on me, I take the blame.”
McAllister (7-8) gave up five runs and six hits in 3⅔ innings.
“Just wasn’t aggressive in the strike zone,” he said. “Got behind and they were able to put the fastballs in play when they were looking for them.”
The Tigers won despite another early exit by injured Miguel Cabrera. The star was pulled from a second straight game, this time after two innings because of irritation in his abdominal area. He struck out in his only at-bat, and the Tigers weren’t sure when he’d return to the lineup.
“I don’t feel very good,” Cabrera said. “I don’t want to be specific. I don’t feel 100 percent.”
Cabrera left Thursday’s game after hurting his abdomen while making an awkward slide. He has been bothered by a strained left abdominal wall for over a month and hampered by knee and shin injuries since then.
The slugger leads the majors with 130 RBIs and a .358 batting average. He also has 43 home runs.
Andy Dirks entered after Cabrera left and got two hits and scored twice. Martinez doubled twice.
Rick Porcello (11-7) allowed two runs and five hits in 5⅔ innings, walking two and striking out three. He was replaced by Al Alburquerque with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth.
Alburquerque walked Asdrubal Cabrera to force in a run and make it 5-2, but then got Yan Gomes on a grounder. Bruce Rondon
combined to pitch a scoreless seventh as each allowed a hit.