Smyly struggles, gets little run support in loss
DETROIT (AP) -- Even though it's only June, Detroit manager Jim Leyland is asking his team to show some urgency.
"This is a critical time for us. We're on the ropes," Leyland said. "You've got to make up your mind if you're going to come out swinging or take a beating."
Rookie Drew Smyly gave up three run-scoring triples, and the Tigers lost 4-2 on Tuesday night to the Cleveland Indians. Ubaldo Jimenez pitched impressively into the seventh inning, and Detroit couldn't make him pay for his occasional wildness.
The Tigers trailed the first-place Chicago White Sox by six games at the start of the night, and they're now 4 behind the second-place Indians.
"However this works out, you're not going to find me negative," Leyland said. "There's too much of that now -- and deservedly so, I might add. When a team is going bad, that's when it needs the manager. We're just not doing things that are conducive to winning games."
Jimenez (6-4) allowed a run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, striking out four and walking only one. The right-hander entered the game with 42 walks in 56 innings this year.
Three relievers finished for Cleveland. Chris Perez allowed a run in the ninth but held on for his 18th save in 19 chances.
Asdrubal Cabrera, Lou Marson and Michael Brantley each hit RBI triples for Cleveland, which became the third team this season to hit three triples in a game.
Smyly (2-2) allowed four runs and six hits in six innings.
"I was missing a couple of two-strike pitches. The whole game I was getting ahead in the count," Smyly said. "Just when you get two strikes on these hitters, you've got to make your pitches."
The Indians made two sparkling defensive plays with Detroit trying to rally in the ninth. After a leadoff single by Delmon Young, Cabrera, the shortstop, barehanded Gerald Laird's chopper and threw to second for a forceout.
Jhonny Peralta followed with a double and Brennan Boesch hit a sacrifice fly, but Shin-soo Choo made a sliding catch in right field on Ramon Santiago's shallow fly to end it.
The Indians won for only the fourth time in their last 27 games at Comerica Park.
Jimenez allowed seven runs in four innings May 27 against the White Sox in Chicago. He was bothered by cramping in his left side, so the Indians gave him a bit more rest and didn't start him again until Tuesday.
"I just think that it gave him time to rest his left side," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "You don't want to push him and make it worse."
The Indians had lost seven of nine since sweeping three straight from the Tigers in Cleveland last month. Jimenez hit the first batter he faced and allowed an RBI double to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning.
Detroit did little offensively after that. Matt Young, a 29-year-old outfielder just up from the minors, struck out four times. The home crowd gave him a sarcastic cheer when he fouled off a two-strike pitch in the eighth, but he struck out swinging at the next one.
Smyly struck out the first four hitters he faced, but Cabrera's triple in the third tied the game and Marson's triple in the fifth gave the Indians the lead. Choo drove Marson home with a single to make it 3-1.
Brantley extended his hitting streak to 13 games with his triple in the sixth, which eluded a diving Boesch in right and brought home another run.
NOTES: Cleveland became the first team with at least three triples and no other extra-base hits since Kansas City on Sept. 21, 1998, against Detroit. ... Detroit C Alex Avila left the game when his troublesome right hamstring tightened. ... Tigers DH Victor Martinez was at the ballpark. He's been recovering from a severe knee injury from the offseason and said he's supposed to have an MRI around the end of this month. ... Detroit's Prince Fielder extended his hitting streak to 12 with a sixth-inning single. ... Detroit RHP Max Scherzer (5-3) faces Cleveland RHP Jeanmar Gomez (3-4) on Wednesday night.