Detroit, MI (Sports Network) – Shin-Soo Choo touched home three times and finished 2-for-4, as the Cleveland Indians pulled back into a virtual tie for first in the Central Division with a 6-4 win over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.
Matt LaPorta and Orlando Cabrera each drove in a pair of runs for the Indians, who recorded just their third win in 13 games.
Cleveland starter Fausto Carmona (4-8) posted his first win in seven starts, allowing four runs on eight hits over five innings.
“[Carmona] battled through it. He started throwing his changeup and did a good job,” Indians catcher Lou Marson said of his battery mate.
Brennan Boesch had a solo home run and finished with two RBI for the Tigers, who had taken over sole possession of first place in the division for the first time since last July with a 4-0 win in the opener of the three-game series. However, Thursday’s game will now decide the series and who takes over first place in the Central for the time being.
Alex Avila went 2-for-2 with two walks and two RBI in the losing effort, while Charlie Furbush (1-1) was charged with the loss after giving up a run on three hits in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
“They pitched better than we did,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “We had Carmona on the ropes, we just couldn’t do anything with their bullpen.”
Choo had a one-out single in the fifth and scored on Cabrera’s double that went into the corner in left to bring Choo all the way home for a 5-4 lead.
Choo found home again in the seventh when he reached on a one-out hit, scurried to third on a wild pitch and touched the plate on a LaPorta groundout to go up 6-4.
The lead would stay that way thanks to the Cleveland bullpen, which came into the game with the third lowest ERA in the American League. Vinnie Pestano and Tony Sipp combined for shutout innings in the seventh and eighth while Chris Perez entered into the ninth to convert his 11th straight save opportunity.
The Tigers jumped on the Carmona and the Indians early as Boesch lifted a two- out solo shot over the right field fence in the first. The inning kept going when Miguel Cabrera reached on Jack Hannahan’s fielding error, Victor Martinez doubled into left and Magglio Ordonez drew a walk to load the bases for Avila, who laced a ball up the middle to bring in two runs for a 3-0 lead.
The Indians would charge back in the fourth to take the lead as the first four batters of the inning reached safely.
Asdrubal Cabrera led off with a single and Choo walked to set up LaPorta’s RBI single. Orlando Cabrera followed with a single through the left side to plate Choo from second. After Hannahan bunted LaPorta and Asdrubal Cabrera to second and third, Marson lined into right to plate the tying run and Grady Sizemore’s sacrifice fly to center took the 4-3 lead.
The edge wouldn’t last, though, as Detroit got its first two runners on in the bottom half of the inning after Ramon Santiago singled and slid safely into second on Austin Jackson’s grounder to short. Don Kelly moved the two runners to second and third and set the table for Boesch’s RBI groundout to knot the score at four.
Perez has 17 saves this season and has converted 27 of his last 28 save opportunities, including last season…Carmona is 8-4 in 18 games (15 starts) against Detroit…Tigers starter Brad Penny lasted just 3 1/3 innings, allowing four runs in eight hits…Cleveland swept a three-game set from the Tigers earlier in the season at Progressive Field and has won seven of eight in the series.