Sunday, May 27, 2018
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Indians squeeze out victory; trail 1st place Tigers by 3


Detroit first baseman Prince Fielder tags out Cleveland runner Michael Brantley in the fourth inning.

Associated Press Enlarge

CLEVELAND -- Aaron Cunningham bunted home the go-ahead run with a suicide squeeze as the Cleveland Indians beat Detroit 3-2, moving within three games of the AL Central-leading Tigers on Tuesday night.

Travis Hafner tripled with one out in the seventh inning off Doug Fister (4-7) and Lou Marson ran for him.

Marson took off running as Cunningham, a defensive replacement hitting .175, dropped a bunt in front of the plate. Fister quickly got the ball and tried to shovel it to catcher Alex Avila. It rolled away, Marson scored, and Cunningham took second on the error.

Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer off reliever Joe Smith (6-2) tied it at 2 in the top half.

Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his 28th save in 30 chances.

Cleveland is 6-1 against the Tigers. Perez has saved each win. Five have been by two runs or fewer.

Vinnie Pestano pitched a scoreless eighth for Cleveland, which is 29-3 when the right-hander and Perez have been in the same game. The Indians are 20-45 in all other games.

Johnny Damon had an RBI single in the second inning and Carlos Santana singled home a run in the fourth for Cleveland.

Smith thought he had thrown a third strike past Quentin Berry to end the top of the seventh with that 2-0 lead. TV replays showed his 3-2 pitch was over the heart of the plate, but umpire Marvin Hudson judged it to be a tad high. Cabrera then drove a 2-0 pitch over the wall in center for his 24th homer.

Great hustle by Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder helped douse the Indians' rally in the fourth.

With runners on first and second and none out, Santana singled between first and second, driving home Jason Kipnis. Right fielder Brennan Boesch scooped up the ball and threw toward home, but Fielder cut off the throw and fired to third baseman Cabrera, getting Michael Brantley in a rundown.

Fielder then sprinted across the diamond to backup Cabrera, took a return throw from shortstop Jhonny Peralta and tagged out Brantley trying to reach third with a headfirst slide.

Hafner struck out and Damon grounded out to end the inning.

Jimenez allowed seven singles over six scoreless innings.

Fister gave up three runs and nine hits over seven innings.

NOTES: Fielder's hustle play resulted in a putout scored 9-3-5-6-3, which made residents of Pearblossom, Calif., proud. That's their zip code number. ... Cleveland tied a season high with its seventh straight errorless game. The Indians have only seven errors in their past 28 games. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland said RHP Anibal Sanchez will start Saturday in Toronto and 2B Omar Infante will bat in the second spot against left-handers and ninth against right-handers. The two were acquired from Miami on Monday. ... Ramon Santiago, who has been splitting Tigers second-base duties with Ryan Raburn and Danny Worth, will be the utility infielder. Raburn will play left field against lefty pitchers; Worth was optioned to Triple-A Toledo.

Indians get Lillibridge

The Indians acquired veteran Brent Lillibridge from the Boston Red Sox, adding some backup versatility as they seek to stay in the AL Central race.

Minor-league right-hander Jose De La Torre was sent to Boston, which had acquired Lillibridge on June 24 as part of the trade that sent corner infielder Kevin Youkilis to the Chicago White Sox.

Lillibridge has seen extensive action at every position except pitcher and catcher in his career. He is expected to be used in a utility role after joining the Indians today when the team will have to clear a spot on the 25-man roster for him.

"He's a guy we can use to give [shortstop Asdrubal] Cabrera and [second baseman Jason] Kipnis a rest," manager Manny Acta said.

The 28-year-old Lillibridge has hit .212 in 295 games for Atlanta, the White Sox and Boston.

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