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Tigers Take On Indians In Battle For AL Central

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(Sports Network) - The Detroit Tigers will try to pad their lead atop the American League Central standings this evening when they start a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park.

The Tigers, which will meet the Tribe nine times the rest of the way, dropped two of three to the Indians last week in Cleveland to stretch their lead to three games. However, Cleveland has won four of five since and has sliced that deficit in half.

Detroit, though, is 17-3 in its last 20 versus Cleveland at Comerica Park.

The Tigers enter tonight's tilt on a bit of a sour note after dropping two of three to the lowly Minnesota Twins. Detroit gave up a ninth inning lead and dropped a 6-5 decision in Wednesday's finale.

Jose Valverde (2-4) allowed two unearned runs in the ninth to get the loss, while Miguel Cabrera had two hits and two RBI in Detroit's third loss in four games.

Tonight, Max Scherzer gets the call, as he tries to win his second straight start and set a new career-high for victories in a season in the process. Scherzer beat the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday, allowing five runs (four earned) and seven hits in seven innings. He also struck out 10 without walking a batter and improved to 12-7 on the year to go along with a 4.37 ERA.

He also won 12 games last season.

Scherzer beat the Indians the last time he faced them and is 2-3 in six starts against them, despite a 5.50 ERA.

Cleveland, meanwhile, picked up a half-game on the idle Tigers on Thursday, as Kosuke Fukudome had three hits, knocked in a run and scored twice to help the Indians take a 4-2 victory over the White Sox in the rubber match of a key American League Central series.

With the win, Cleveland increased its lead over Chicago for second place in the Central standings.

Justin Masterson (10-7) allowed two runs on seven hits and three walks through six innings in Cleveland's eighth win in their last 12 games.

"We can't worry about who else is losing. If we take care of what we can and win our games as we got out, it's going to speak for itself. We don't need to worry about anybody else or need anyone else to go out and beat anybody," Masterson said.

Chris Perez tossed a perfect ninth to earn his 27th save of the year.

Hoping to get them even closer tonight, the Indians will rely on righty Josh Tomlin, who is 12-5 with a 3.97 ERA. Tomlin beat the Twins on Saturday, limiting them to a run and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Tomlin is 1-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two starts versus the Tigers.

Cleveland has won six of nine from the Tigers this season.