Tigers 5, Indians 3
Justin Verlander isn't the only hard-throwing pitcher in Detroit's rotation.
Max Scherzer is making opponents take notice that the Tigers have another formidable starter for the rest of the American League to worry about.
Scherzer (10-5) allowed two runs over seven innings to win his fourth straight decision and the Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians for only the second time in eight games this season with a 5-3 victory Wednesday night.
''Max's ceiling is very high,'' manager Jim Leyland said. ''He has a chance to get better and better.''
Scherzer, whose only mistake came on Casey Kotchman's two-run homer in the third, isn't too bad now. He held the Indians to three hits, struck out eight and walked four. Scherzer has won nine of his last 11 decisions and has struck out 35 in 32 innings during his winning streak. He also won for the first time in five career starts at Progressive Field.
Scherzer grew stronger as the game went on. He retired 13 of the last 15 he faced and needed only five pitches to get through the seventh.
''You can really judge your outing on your last 15 pitches,'' he said. ''I finished the game really well. I had a good fifth inning, a good sixth inning and I got through the seventh. That helped keep the momentum on our side and I was able to get the game to the bullpen.''
The Indians, who will face Verlander in Thursday's series finale, were duly impressed.
''We couldn't do much against Scherzer,'' manager Manny Acta said. ''He beat us all night with his fastball.''
Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Jose Valverde gave up Travis Hafner's one-out homer in the ninth before recording his 19th save in 23 chances.
Quintin Berry had three hits and drove in two runs for the Tigers, who have won 14 of 17 and remained tied for first in the AL Central with Chicago. The third-place Indians fell four games out.
Berry, who also drew a walk, slapped all three of his hits to the opposite field in left.
''Quintin had a great night,'' Leyland said. ''He was just getting his bat on the ball and not trying to do too much.''
Derek Lowe (8-9) allowed five runs in six innings, but wasn't helped by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera's throwing errors on back-to-back plays that allowed two runs to score in the second.
Lowe, the Indians' best pitcher the first two months of the season, is 2-8 with a 7.59 ERA in his last 12 starts. The 39-year-old right-hander was 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA in his first eight outings but has been rocked since, allowing 89 hits and 54 earned runs in 64 innings.
''I've pitched worse than this, believe it or not, even though you guys didn't see it,'' Lowe said. ''I've struggled numerous times in my career, but by no means do you go out there and not think you're going to get the job done.''
Miguel Cabrera's RBI single in the first gave Detroit the early lead. Singles by Austin Jackson and Berry put runners on first and third before Cabrera lined a single to right-center. Jackson scored and Berry took third, but Cabrera was thrown out trying for second to end the rally.
Lowe continued to struggle in the second when he was hurt by Cabrera's shoddy defense. Alex Avila doubled with one out and Omar Infante sent a routine grounder to short for what should have been the second out, but Cabrera's throw to first pulled Kotchman off the bag with Avila taking third.
Cabrera then made a backhand stop of Jackson's ground ball, but his one-hop throw skipped past second baseman Jason Kipnis and rolled into right field. Avila scored and the runners moved to second and third. Berry's single made it 3-0.
Kotchman's two-run homer - the Indians' first hit - closed the gap to 3-2. After Shin-Soo Choo doubled with one out, Kipnis drew a two-out walk, but the inning ended when Michael Brantley flied out to deep right.
Lowe walked the bases loaded to start the fifth, but the Tigers scored only one run on Prince Fielder's sacrifice fly. Berry added an RBI single in the sixth.
Lowe gave up four earned runs and allowed eight hits.
Cabrera has 12 errors this season, including a three-error game June 17 against Pittsburgh.
NOTES: RHP Roberto Hernandez, formerly known as Fausto Carmona, will make his first rehab start Thursday since returning to the U.S. Hernandez is serving a three-week suspension handed down by MLB for age and identity fraud. He will face West Michigan, whose catcher is Patrick Leyland, the sons of the Tigers manager. ... RHP Anibal Sanchez, acquired from Miami on Monday, will throw a bullpen session Thursday and is scheduled to make his first AL start Saturday at Toronto. ... Indians OF Aaron Cunningham was designated for assignment, clearing room on the 25-man roster for utility man Brent Lillibridge, who was acquired Tuesday from the Red Sox in exchange for minor league RHP Jose De La Torre. ... The teams wrap up their three-game series Thursday night with Verlander (11-5, 2.42 ERA) facing RHP Zach McAllister (4-2, 3.21 ERA).