Indians 5, Tigers 4
The Detroit Tigers left Progressive Field with some good news: They won't return until August.
The Tigers lost their sixth straight game Sunday, falling 5-4 to the Cleveland Indians.
Detroit scored first in all three games of the Indians' sweep, but suffered walk-off losses on Friday and Saturday before watching the Indians score three times in the eighth to erase a 3-2 lead.
The Tigers fell to 7 1/2 games behind the Indians, who have won 13 straight at home, in the American League Central. It's back to Detroit for the Tigers, who start a four-game series against the Yankees on Monday night.
''We're not doing enough things to win games,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''We're either getting behind and not catching up or getting ahead and not holding them off. It's a combination of things.''
The Tigers still had a chance in ninth against Cleveland closer Chris Perez. Miguel Cabrera, who was walked four times in the series, cut the lead to 5-4 with an RBI single, but Brennan Boesch flied out to end the game.
''It's too early in the year to get frustrated,'' said Cabrera, who was given three intentional passes. ''We've got to figure out ways to start winning.''
Alex Avila's sacrifice fly with the bases-loaded in the top of the eighth broke a 2-2 tie, but Joaquin Benoit (0-2) lost for the second time in three days with another shaky outing. Benoit, who served up a game-ending grand slam to Carlos Santana on Friday, yielded a single to Shin-Soo Choo to start the innning and plunked Shelley Duncan in the hand with one out.
The Tigers argued the ball hit Duncan's bat, but plate umpire Tim Welke stuck by his original ruling.
''Our guys saw (the replay) and thought he got it right,'' Leyland said. ''When things aren't good, that's what happens. When you're going good, that's a foul ball. When you're not going good, it's a hit by pitch.''
Orlando Cabrera then singled off the glove of diving third baseman Brandon Inge to score Choo for a 3-all tie. Michael Brantley singled home the go-ahead run and Matt LaPorta added a sacrifice fly for his third RBI.
Benoit was charged with three runs in two-thirds of an inning.
''I'm struggling,'' Benoit said. ''Nothing is going right for me now.''
Chad Durbin (1-1) struck out Inge, the only batter he faced, in the eighth for the win. Perez picked up his seventh save in eight chances.
Tigers starter Phil Coke gave up two runs and four hits over six innings in his fifth start after opening the season in the bullpen. The lefty walked two and struck out four. Lefty hitters in Cleveland's lineup went 1 for 8. Coke has held lefties to a .162 average (6 of 37) this season.
Cleveland starter Justin Masterson gave up seven hits and two earned runs over seven innings, striking out seven.
After criticizing his hitters for being too impatient Saturday night, Leyland shook up his lineup Sunday. Leadoff hitter Austin Jackson was moved to the ninth spot. Right fielder Magglio Ordonez, whose average has fallen to .158, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta were on the bench against Masterson.
Kelly had an RBI double in the first, when the Tigers added a run on a passed ball by Santana. LaPorta's two-run double in the second tied the score against Coke.
Masterson yielded a leadoff single to Kelly and hit Cabrera in the left leg with a pitch to open the eighth. Cabrera glared at the mound, gestured at Masterson and walked slowly to first. Earlier in the game, both benches had been warned after Masterson and Coke had plunked batters.
Cabrera, who was wearing an ice wrap above his knee after the game, didn't think Masterson was throwing at him.
''I wasn't mad,'' Cabrera said. ''I was hurt. It hurt.''
Welke settled down a boys-will-be-boys incident in the fifth by warning both benches. In the bottom of the fourth, Coke hit Brantley in the back with a pitch. Masterson retaliated with two outs in the fifth by hitting Santiago in the hip.
''I don't think Masterson was throwing at him, but it just didn't look good after you walk a guy that many times and hit a guy,'' Leyland said. ''He definitely threw at Santiago, but I don't think he was throwing at Miguel.''
NOTES: Tigers C-DH Victor Martinez, out since April 19 with a strained right groin, will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Toledo on Monday. ... Miguel Cabrera is batting .336 with 15 homers and 49 RBIs against the Indians since 2008. ... The Indians are 13-2 at home for the first time since 1941 and have baseball's best record at 19-8.