Austin Jackson completed a game-ending double play, catching a fly ball by Matt LaPorta and gunning down Kosuke Fukudome at the plate to preserve a rocky 8-7 Tigers win over the Indians.
Detroit swept the three-game set from the second place Tribe to up their lead in the AL Central to 4 1/2 games.
Detroit busted the game open with a seven-run third inning off starter Ubaldo Jimenez, but Cleveland got back in it with a five-run fourth inning thanks to another shaky performance by Rick Porcello. Neither pitcher lasted past the fourth inning.
Cleveland had the lead whittled down to 8-7 by the sixth inning after a Travis Hafner RBI single, but Detroit’s shaky bullpen held on for the remainder of the game. Phil Coke (2-8) ended up getting the win by pitching 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
But trouble started to lurk in the ninth when closer Jose Valverde took the mound in an attempt for his 37th straight save. Valverde walked Fukudome and hit Jason Donald in the first two batters to put the winning runs on base with no one out. Both then advanced a base on Jack Hannahan’s sacrifice bunt.
That set up LaPorta’s at-bat, pinch-hitting for the No. 9 hitter Lou Marson. LaPorta hit a shallow fly to Jackson, who caught the ball and fired a perfect strike to catcher Alex Avila, who was blocking the plate, for the final out.
The Tigers didn’t look like they would have any drama after the third inning, which was highlighted by home runs from Delmon Young (three-run shot to left center) and Victor Martinez (two-run homer to right).
Porcello had gotten through three innings without much fanfare, but allowed the Indians right back in the game in the fourth. He managed to squeeze two outs around a Carlos Santana solo homer to right, but allowed four straight hits after that to cut the lead to 7-4. Duane Below replaced him and gave up a run on a wild pitch, but eventually got out of the inning.
Detroit manufactured what turned out to be the winning run in the bottom of the fourth, with Jackson scoring after legging out an infield single and stealing second base. Young drove him home with a RBI single up the middle.