DETROIT — The Cleveland Indians refused to allow one setback to sour their trip to Detroit.
Drew Smyly gave up four hits in seven innings and Torii Hunter hit a two-run homer, helping the Tigers beat Cleveland 5-1 Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep.
“It was a great series for us,” Josh Tomlin said after taking the loss. “Took three games from them, but I came up short.”
Cleveland (50-48) had reached a season-high three games over .500 by winning four in a row.
Tomlin (5-7) allowed four runs, six hits and a walk over 41⁄3 innings in the series finale.
Smyly (6-8) did not give up a hit until Yan Gomes’ two-out double in the fifth. The left-hander allowed one run on Gomes’ seventh-inning homer — and two walks with six strikeouts. His innings matched his career high.
“He was flipping that breaking ball over at will and it had a lot of depth to it,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “And, he was changing speeds.”
Cleveland’s pitchers were doing what it took, for the most part, against Tigers sluggers Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Cabrera went 0 for 4 Sunday, and Martinez was 3 of 15 over the four-game series.
“Those guys in the middle are pretty special,” Francona said. “And, I thought we did a good job against them.”
The Indians, meanwhile, could not mount a comeback against Detroit’s bullpen.
Joba Chamberlain walked two in the eighth, and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.
The AL Central-leading Tigers (54-41) stopped a four-game losing streak and increased their lead over Cleveland to 51⁄2 games.
Detroit gave Smyly some support offensively, scoring two runs in the first and two more on Hunter’s drive deep into the left-field seats. Austin Jackson led off the first with a double and scored on Ian Kinsler’s single, and Kinsler came home on Martinez’s sacrifice fly.
After Hunter’s two-run homer in the fourth inning, the Tigers failed to take advantage of creating a bigger cushion the next two innings.
Indians relievers C.C. Lee and Kyle Crockett stranded a total of five runners by combining to strike out the last two batters in the fifth and the sixth.
Nick Castellanos hit an RBI double for a four-run lead in the eighth inning, taking some pressure off Nathan, who was greeted by the fans with a mix of cheers and boos after giving up a game-losing hit in Saturday night’s loss.
“I don’t think it hurt that he got back out there,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
- The Indians will stay on the road, expecting to put called-up LHP T.J. House (1-2, 4.40) on the mound against LHP Kris Johnson (0-1, 5.40) Monday night and called-up RHP Danny Salazar on Tuesday night at Minnesota.
- Detroit and Cleveland optioned the 26th players they had for Saturday’s doubleheader, sending RHP Drew VerHagen to Triple-A Toledo and RHP Zach McAllister to Triple-A Columbus.
- Cleveland had won a season-best five straight on the road.
- The Indians scored 16 of 21 runs during the series after the sixth inning and lead the majors with 161 runs in the seventh inning or later.