Avila hits 2-run HR in 8th, Tigers top Indians

Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera tosses the ball to pitcher Kyle Lobstein to tag out Cleveland Indians' Jason Kipnis during the fourth inning of a baseball game in Detroit, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014.

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.

TRAINER’S ROOM

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.

UP NEXT

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.

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