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Published: Sunday, 5/9/2010

Single warms Cabrera's day

ASSOCIATED PRESS

CLEVELAND - Miguel Cabrera wasn't exactly in his comfort zone as he batted with the bases loaded in a tie game and the wind swirling on a chilly, damp day.

The Detroit slugger delivered a two-run single in the seventh inning, though, leading the Tigers to a 6-4 win over the Cleveland Indians Saturday.

"It was really tough and I had to try and stay focused," Cabrera said after his line drive off Kerry Wood (0-1) broke a 3-3 tie and helped Detroit to its 10th consecutive win over the Indians. The Tigers are 18-4 in the series the past two years, outscoring Cleveland 116-79.

"We've won a few against them, but they have some thump in their lineup and that could turn around in a hurry," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It was a good win on a miserable day."

Justin Verlander (3-2) gave up three runs over six innings, striking out nine. A year ago, the right-hander was 4-0 with a 0.90 earned-run average and had three games of 11 strikeouts against Cleveland.

Joel Zumaya pitched two innings, and Jose Valverde worked the ninth for his eighth save.

"We've been talking about those guys all year," Verlander said. "When you have the offense we have and a bullpen that shuts down the other team, you have the opportunity to get some wins."

Austin Kearns drove in three runs for Cleveland, which has lost five straight and nine of 11. The Tigers avoided their first four-game losing streak since losing five straight last last season.

Wood got two quick outs in his first outing of the season. The right-hander, signed to a two-year, $20.5 million contract in December, 2008, had been out since mid-March with a strained muscle in his upper back that put him on the disabled list for the 13th time in his 12-year career.

Wood fanned the first batter he faced, but the Tigers loaded the bases on a two-out double by rookie Austin Jackson and consecutive walks to Johnny Damon and Magglio Ordonez before Cabrera connected.

"Walking Damon killed me there," Wood said. "I felt fine. I didn't make that bad of a pitch to Cabrera. The ball was in, off the plate. That's why he's hitting. 340, .350 every year. He's one of the best hitters in the game."

Cabrera said it wasn't easy.

"The wind was in my face and he's such a tough pitcher," said the first baseman, hitting .371 with an AL-leading 32 RBIs. "I just tried to put the bat on the ball."

Since joining Detroit in 2008, Cabrera has hit .331 (54 of 163) with 11 homers and 37 RBIs in 40 games against the Indians.

"It's not just Cleveland," Leyland said. "Cabrera has games against everybody. He's just a great player."

Detroit added an eighth-inning run on a two-out error by Indians shortstop Luis Valbuena, his third in two games.

Scott Sizemore's two-out, three-run double put the Tigers ahead 3-0 in the fourth off Justin Masterson.

"That was a big hit because it looked like [Masterson] could get out of the jam," Leyland said. "Then Scottie hit it in the gap and scored them all."

Travis Hafner poked a run-scoring single between third and short with one out in the bottom half, and the Indians had runners on second and third before Verlander fanned Kearns and got Jhonny Peralta to ground out and end the threat.

Kearns tied it at 3-3 in the sixth with a two-run single to center with the bases loaded. His sacrifice fly in the eighth made it 6-4.

Masterson yielded three runs and five hits over six innings. The right-hander walked three and fanned eight, remaining winless since Aug. 20. Masterson is 1-12 in 17 appearances (16 starts) since joining Cleveland in a trade from Boston on July 31.

NOTES: Indians manager Manny Acta scratched shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera a few minutes before the start. Cabrera has not played since Monday because of a strained left quad, but Acta said he likely will return today. ... The teams have not announced a makeup of Friday's game, which was rained out after four innings. It could be added to a three-game series July 16-18, immediately after the All-Star break. ... Hafner went 3-for-3 and has hit .400 (8-of-20) over his last six games. ... Jackson has reached safely in 24 straight games since April 11, hitting .394 (41-of-104) during that stretch. ... Cleveland struck out 15 times, a season-high for a nine-inning game. ... Indians pitchers walked eight.



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