Indians tag Verlander, top Tigers again 9-3 for 9th straight
DETROIT (AP) Terry Francona did something Sunday at Comerica Park that he rarely gets to do. He relaxed while sitting in the visiting manager's office.
The Cleveland Indians had just beaten the Tigers 9-3, winning their ninth straight game and improving to 9-0 against Detroit this season.
''I've spent a lot of long nights in this office, trying to figure how to regroup after getting beat up yet again by that team,'' Francona said. ''I can't entirely explain this, but it feels good.''
The Indians roughed up a pitcher Francona has great respect for - Justin Verlander. They homered four times off him in a six-run fifth inning to take control of the game.
''Everyone knows how well he is throwing the ball, and early on today, he was throwing free and easy,'' Francona said. ''He just left a few pitches up in the fifth and we took advantage of all of them.''
Lonnie Chisenhall had four hits, including one of the four homers off Verlander. Juan Uribe, Tyler Naquin and Mike Napoli also went deep for the Indians.
Chisenhall was 4 for 4 with a triple and three RBIs.
Mike Tomlin (9-1) beat Verlander for the third time this year, allowing three runs and six hits in eight innings.
''That feels great, because he's an established star in this league,'' Tomlin said. ''But I can't focus on who I'm pitching against, especially when I have to worry about the guys in this lineup.''
Cleveland overcame three homers by former teammates, including two by Victor Martinez, to sweep Detroit for the third time this year. The Indians have outscored the Tigers 60-20 in nine games.
The Tigers kept their clubhouse closed for an unusually long time after the game, but manager Brad Ausmus declined to say whether he held a team meeting. Detroit trails first-place Cleveland by seven games in the AL Central.
''They just have our number right now,'' Ausmus said. ''There's no other way to explain it.''
Only once before had Verlander allowed four homers in a start - also against the Indians in 2007. According to the Elias Sports Bureau and Fox Sports Detroit, he became the first pitcher in franchise history to give up four in one inning.
Verlander (7-6) allowed eight runs on nine hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings. It was the 15th time a Tigers starter gave up at least six runs this season, most in the American League and one behind San Diego.
''I started off all right today, but then it all fell apart in that one inning,'' Verlander said. ''I've worked my tail off for the last month and a half to get back where I wanted to be, and then it all blows up in one start.''
Verlander wouldn't say whether Ausmus had talked to the team, but pointed out that it shouldn't be needed.
''We're all professionals here,'' the pitcher said. ''We know what we have to do.''
Ex-Indian Mike Aviles gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a third-inning homer, his first of the season. It was also the first time Detroit had led against Cleveland this year.
In the fourth, though, Michael Martinez walked, went to third on Francisco Lindor's single and scored on Verlander's wild pitch. Chisenhall made it 2-1 with an RBI single later in the inning.
Victor Martinez's 13th homer tied it in the fourth, but the Indians scored six times in the fifth.
Uribe and Naquin started the inning with back-to-back homers to give Cleveland a 4-2 lead. Napoli hit the third home run of the inning with two outs, scoring Lindor to make it 6-2. And after Jose Ramirez singled, Chisenhall homered to right field, chasing Verlander.
''I left some balls up in the zone, and those guys are just seeing everything really well right now,'' Verlander said. ''That's not a recipe for success.''
Victor Martinez homered again in the sixth to make it 8-3.
Two days after the Indians hit three triples in an inning for the first time in 48 years, they hit four homers in an inning for the third time in franchise history. The other two came in 1963 and 2004.
Indians: 2B Jason Kipnis, who left Saturday's game with what was originally described as an illness and then changed to ''general soreness,'' was out of the lineup Sunday. Kipnis joked before the game it was due to hitting two triples Friday.
Tigers: RF Steven Moya missed his second straight game with a sore knee.
Indians: Travel to Atlanta for a three-game series against the Braves. Corey Kluber (7-7, 3.59 ERA) is scheduled to start the opener against John Gant (1-2, 4.45). Kluber is coming off a three-hit shutout of Tampa Bay.
Tigers: Off on Monday before hosting the Miami Marlins in a two-game series.