DETROIT (AP) — The Cleveland Indians fell out of the AL Central race when they went all of August without winning a series.
Now, they’re giving the playoff-chasing Detroit Tigers all sorts of fits.
Justin Masterson pitched six solid innings, and the Indians beat Detroit 3-2 on Tuesday night for their second straight victory over the Tigers.
Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer for Detroit, but the Tigers missed another opportunity against a struggling team. Masterson (11-12) allowed two runs and four hits. He walked one and struck out four.
“Today, a lot of good movement on the ball, it was coming out of my hand well,” Masterson said. “You have as bad an August as we had, it seemed that September became a relief for us.”
Four relievers finished, with Chris Perez pitching a perfect ninth for his 34th save in 38 chances.
Rick Porcello (9-11) allowed three runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.
The Indians had lost 29 of 35 before taking the first two games of this series.
Detroit swept three in a row against the Chicago White Sox to pull even with them atop the AL Central, but the Tigers lost three to Kansas City before that and are now having trouble with Cleveland.
Michael Brantley hit an RBI double in the second to open the scoring, and Jack Hannahan drove in a run with a single later in the inning.
Brantley has hit safely in 15 straight games against Detroit.
In the third, Asdrubal Cabrera came to the plate with a man on second. His fair ball down the right field line was picked up by an unsuspecting ballboy. The umpires ruled it a run-scoring double.
The Tigers began the game with five left-handed hitters in the lineup. Masterson wasn’t bothered.
“He’s a guy we look to every five games to do just what he did tonight because he has the stuff to do it,” Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. “When he’s like tonight, when he’s able to command the ball, it doesn’t matter how many lefties they have out there.”
Detroit left fielder Andy Dirks made a diving catch of Brantley’s sinking liner in the fifth to prevent another run from scoring, and Cabrera’s 34th home run of the year made it 3-2 in the sixth.
Detroit reliever Drew Smyly threw 30 pitches without a ball in play — three strikeouts and two walks. Then right-hander Al Alburquerque came on with two outs in the seventh for his first appearance with the Tigers since offseason surgery on his throwing elbow.
Alburquerque retired all four hitters he faced.
The Tigers put two men on in the seventh, but Omar Infante hit a routine groundball to end the inning.
“It’s not a frustration, it’s the real world. You’ve got to win games,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “If you want to get to the postseason, we’ve got to win enough games to do it, but I’m not going to change. That’s just the way it is. We come here steady every day.”
Vinnie Pestano worked a perfect eighth before giving way to Perez. Detroit didn’t have a hit after Cabrera’s homer.
“It’s tough for us, but you’ve got to remember, they’re still a major league team. They’ve got good players over there,” Smyly said. “They can compete with anyone, any given day. We’ve each got to come ready to play.”
NOTES: The Tigers haven’t scored while Porcello was in the game in any of his last four starts. … The Indians recalled LHP David Huff, LHP Scott Maine, INF Cord Phelps and INF-OF Vinny Rottino from Triple-A Columbus. … Detroit recalled RHP Luke Putkonen from Triple-A Toledo. … Detroit will try to avoid a three-game sweep Wednesday night. RHP Doug Fister (7-8) takes the mound against Indians RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (9-14).