Aviles saves day for Indians

Mike Aviles hit a grand slam in the ninth inning that lifted the Cleveland Indians to a 4-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.

The AL Central leaders had won seven straight against second-place Cleveland. The Tigers won the season series 15-4, a string of success that has helped them build a 7 1/2-game cushion in the division with a month left in the regular season.

Detroit rested banged-up star Miguel Cabrera for a second straight game.

Joe Smith (6-2) got the win after giving up one hit and a walk in the eighth, keeping the Tigers scoreless after Danny Salazar’s strong start.

Detroit tried to rally in the ninth, but a tough break on the bases proved costly.

Chris Perez gave up a one-out double to Omar Infante, who was hit by Alex Avila’s liner for the second out. The right-hander let No. 9 hitter Ramon Santiago extend the inning with a single, and a passed ball put the runners in scoring position before Andy Dirks grounded out to end the game.

Joaquin Benoit (4-1) walked Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley to start the top of the ninth.

Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sacrifice bunt, putting pinch-runner Jose Ramirez, in his major league debut, at third base and Brantley at second. The Tigers intentionally walked Jason Kubel to load the bases for Aviles, the No. 8 hitter. Aviles hit some flies in foul territory that were almost caught before sending a thigh-high pitch over the left-field fence for his ninth homer.

Detroit’s Justin Verlander extended his winless streak to five outings, but held a team scoreless for the first time since a seven-inning start on July 14 against Texas.

Verlander gave up four hits and two walks – both in his shaky first inning – and struck out six, the last of which was Kubel on a 99 mph fastball with a runner on third for the second out of the seventh.

The Indians’ starter, Salazar, also didn’t give up a run. He allowed six hits without a walk and struck out five over six innings.

Left-hander Nick Hagadone, recalled from the minors earlier in the day, was given a chance to pitch for Cleveland for the first time since July 2 and didn’t last long because he gave up one hit and one walk while getting only one out. The Indians took Hagadone out and put in Cody Allen, and he later stranded a runner on third by striking out Dirks.

The Tigers kept Cabrera out of the lineup for a second straight day, hoping rest will help him recover from a strained abdomen. They were also without center fielder Austin Jackson, a day after he hurt his right shoulder when he hit the wall trying to make a catch in Saturday night’s win.

NOTES: Detroit reliever Bruce Rondon pitched a scoreless eighth. … The Tigers expanded their roster with OF Nick Castellanos, who made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, RHP Evan Reed and INF Danny Worth. They also recalled RHP Octavio Dotel from his injury rehabilitation assignment but expect a forearm ailment will keep him out for the rest of the season. … Cleveland expanded its roster by five players, adding Hagadone, Ramirez, 33-year-old C Kelly Shoppach, RHP Preston Guilmet and RHP Blake Wood. … The Tigers open a series Monday night on the road against the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. … Cleveland returns home to play Baltimore on Monday night.