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Tigers Take On Indians In Labor Day Duel

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(Sports Network) - A weekend sweep helped the first-place Tigers distance themselves from one competitor in the American League Central. Detroit will look to pad its cushion against another as it opens a three-game set with the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.

The Tigers outscored the White Sox, 35-11, in taking all three games from the club to knock Chicago 8 1/2 games off the pace in the division. Detroit enters this series with a 6 1/2-game lead over Cleveland.

The big bats were broken out for Sunday's finale as the Tigers routed the White Sox, 18-2. Miguel Cabrera and Andy Dirks both hit two-run homers and drove in four runs, while Alex Avila had four of Detroit's 24 hits.

"The guys were ready to play," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said after his team won for the 13th time in 17 games.

Max Scherzer threw seven shutout innings, giving up just five hits, and struck out six without issuing a walk to win his 14th game.

Cleveland kept pace with Detroit on Sunday with an impressive showing of its own, getting a pair of homers and five RBI from Shelley Duncan in a 9-6 win over the Royals.

"It was nice getting that big lead for once," Duncan said. "We haven't done that in awhile. Lately, we've been putting our bullpen in a position where they save us every single game. It was nice to give them a chance and our defense a chance with somewhat of a cushion."

Asdrubal Cabrera returned to the lineup and knocked in two runs. He sat out Saturday's game after fouling a pitch off his left knee in the series opener.

Cleveland, which has won seven of its last 10, could get another pair of players back this week in Grady Sizemore (right knee) and Jason Kipnis (right hamstring), with both players possible to return as early as tonight.

Both Detroit and Cleveland made moves to bolster their rotations, but one has paid off more than the other.

The Tigers swung a deal with the Mariners to get Doug Fister and he has gone 3-1 with a 2.97 earned run average in six starts with his new team. He'll face Indians hurler Ubaldo Jimenez, who has gone 2-1 with a 5.56 ERA in six games since being acquired from the Rockies.

Fister has allowed two runs over his past three starts, spanning 21 2/3 innings. He missed out on a third straight victory when he did not get a decision in a 2-1 win over the Royals on Tuesday, allowing a run over 7 1/3 innings. The righty scattered four hits and struck out six without a walk.

"He had no-hit stuff," Royals manager Ned Yost said of Fister "He was nasty."

Fister did beat the Indians on Aug. 20, when he allowed a run over seven frames while striking out seven. The 27-year-old moved to 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA in six career games against them.

Jimenez was not as sharp when he faced the Tigers back on Aug. 21. The right- hander was blitzed for eight runs over just 3 1/3 frames, with seven of those runs coming in the third inning. Jimenez allowed homers to Delmon Young and Victor Martinez during the big frame, falling to 2-3 with a 5.93 ERA in his career against Detroit.

"In the third inning, they did a really good job," Jimenez said. "They came up hacking, looking for the perfect pitch to hit and they hit it."

The 27-year-old has given up four runs in two outings since and did not get a decision versus the A's on Wednesday. He was charged with three runs on six hits over six innings of work.

Though the Tigers have won their last four meetings with the Indians, they have won just once in six trips to Cleveland this year.