DETROIT (AP) — Alex Avila hit a two-out, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Detroit Tigers kept their slim AL Central lead, beating the Cleveland Indians 5-4 Saturday night.
The Tigers remained a half-game ahead of Kansas City, which topped Boston 7-1.
Avila sent a full-count pitch from reliever Bryan Shaw (5-4) into the right-field stands for his 11th home run.
Victor Martinez hit his career-best 31st home run for Detroit.
Joba Chamberlain (2-5) pitched an inning of scoreless relief. Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 31st save.
Detroit right fielder Torii Hunter saved two runs in the eighth with a two-out, diving catch of Yan Gomes’ short fly ball with runners on second and third.
Michael Brantley homered for Cleveland.
Mike Aviles’ two-out, two-run double into the right-field corner in the fifth gave Cleveland a 4-3 lead.
Brantley it a two-run homer in the first against Kyle Lobstein, connecting on the 10th pitch of the at-bats. Brantley has 19 home runs overall this season, and is batting .400 (30 for 75) against Detroit this season with 3 home runs and 15 RBIs.
The Tigers tied it at 2 in the third on Ian Kinsler’s RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Hunter.
Martinez hit a solo homer in the fourth off Danny Salazar.
Indians: Ryan Raburn started in right field but left after the third because of a hyperextended left knee.
Tigers: RHP Anibal Sanchez, on the disabled list with a strained right pectoral, played long toss from a distance of 120 feet before the game and said he felt “very good”. Manager Brad Ausmus said if Sanchez doesn’t have a setback, he will long toss again on Sunday and throw off the mound in the bullpen on Monday.
The wrapup of the three-game weekend series Sunday matches Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (13-12, 4.82) against Trevor Bauer (5-8, 4.12). Verlander is 3-1 in his last four starts despite a 5.11 ERA.