September 12, 2014
Detroit Tigers' J.D. Martinez, batting alongside Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes and home plate umpire Mike Eastabrook, connects for a two-run triple during the seventh inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Friday, Sept. 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Carlos Oso
Carlos Osorio

DETROIT (AP) Alex Avila chased a popup back behind the plate, and with his momentum carrying him toward the crowd, he had little choice but to hope the screen would hold his 5-foot-11, 210-pound frame.

''Not exactly something you plan,'' the Detroit catcher said. ''I'm not the lightest guy. You never know.''

Avila went leaping into the screen while catching that foul pop, and the Tigers jumped back into first place Friday night with a 7-2 victory over the Cleveland Indians. J.D. Martinez homered, tripled and drove in four runs, and David Price pitched into the eighth inning to help Detroit move a half-game ahead of Kansas City atop the division.

The Royals lost 4-2 to Boston, giving Detroit sole possession of first place for the first time since the morning of Aug. 11.

Martinez broke a 1-all tie in the fourth with a two-run homer, and then drove in two more runs with his triple in the seventh. Price (14-11) allowed a home run to Ryan Raburn in the second but kept Cleveland off the scoreboard after that.

If the Tigers win the division they can thank Martinez, who has 21 home runs. He had never hit more than 11 in a season when Detroit signed him to a minor league deal in March.

''He's certainly been a huge find for Detroit,'' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ''He started the season in Triple-A, and now he's hitting fifth for them. Having him makes getting through Miggy (Cabrera) and Victor (Martinez) a whole lot harder, and that's huge for them.''

Cleveland starter Carlos Carrasco (7-5) allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Indians are four games out in the race for the second American League wild card.

Avila made the defensive play of the night when Mike Aviles hit a foul popup behind the plate in the fifth. Avila made the catch while jumping into the screen, which served almost like a trampoline, sagging backward while the Detroit catcher remained mostly upright and bounced off it.

''It was a nice catch,'' said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, a former catcher. ''I would have caught it without the jump, but he was nice.''

With Cleveland up 1-0 in the third, Ian Kinsler lined an RBI double to right. J.D. Martinez's homer made it 3-1 in the fourth.

Victor Martinez added an RBI single in the seventh, and J.D. Martinez followed with a triple to right-center that made it 6-1. Avila added an RBI infield single.


Detroit won for only the fourth time in eight starts by Price, acquired in a blockbuster trade at the July 31 deadline. The left-hander has allowed a couple of big innings since joining the Tigers, but he also has shown plenty of his All-Star form. Price allowed a run and eight hits Friday in 7 2-3 innings, with seven strikeouts and no walks.

''Just staying focused, staying with my process,'' Price said. ''I know the stuff that I possess out there on the mound is good enough to get teams out, it's good enough to be dominant. I just want to be able to pitch as deep as possible into the game.''


Carrasco had won four straight decisions since rejoining Cleveland's rotation Aug. 10 - and he had allowed only three runs in 38 2-3 innings.

Included in that stretch was an unusual outing against the Tigers on Sept. 2, when he allowed 10 hits in 5 1-3 innings while also striking out 10. That ended up being a no-decision.

He struck out five and walked two on Friday.

''I had a good fastball, and I wanted to attack them, but I didn't make enough pitches,'' Carrasco said. ''I threw a sinker to (J.D.) Martinez, and it just stayed right in the middle of the plate and he hit it out.''


Indians: Aviles doubled in the second, a day after he returned from a nine-day absence due to a concussion. He appeared in both games of a doubleheader against Minnesota on Thursday.

Tigers: Ausmus said LHP Phil Coke (back) is day to day.


Detroit LHP Kyle Lobstein (1-0) takes the mound Saturday night against Cleveland RHP Danny Salazar (6-7), who pitched his first career shutout when he faced the Tigers on Sept. 3.

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