Max Scherzer remained unbeaten and Victor Martinez hit a two-run double in the 10th inning as the Detroit Tigers extended their lead in the AL Central with a 4-2 win over the second-place Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
Martinez doubled off Matt Albers (2-1) as the Tigers won three of four in the series and moved 31/2 games ahead in the division.
Drew Smyly (4-0) worked out of a jam in the ninth for the win, and Joaquin Benoit pitched the 10th for his seventh save, striking out Mike Aviles with runners at first and third to end the game.
Scherzer, attempting to become the first pitcher since Roger Clemens in 1986 to open a season 14-0, finished with a no-decision. He allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings. The presumed AL starter in next week’s All-Star game will take his perfect record into a start on Saturday against Texas.
Scherzer did not get his customary run support — the Tigers average an AL-best 7.87 runs in his starts — as the right-hander left with the score tied 2-all.
Matt Tuiasosopo homered for the Tigers, now 9-3 against the Indians.
Albers got two quick outs in the 10th before walking Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Martinez followed with a drive over the head of center fielder Michael Bourn. The ball caromed off the wall, far enough away for two of Detroit’s slowest runners to score. After Fielder slid across the plate, he popped up from the dirt and swung his arm in celebration.
The Indians had been 5-0 in extra-inning games.
Cleveland came in with a reputation for beating Cy Young Award winners. The Indians have defeated seven former recipients this season, including Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Scherzer is clearly the midseason favorite to win the AL honor in 2013, and while the Indians didn’t hand him a loss, they did prevent him from beating them for the third time this season.
Scherzer wasn’t at his best, and he was noticeably agitated on a night when the rain never really stopped. However, the 28-year-old got stronger as the game wore on. He gave up both runs — on a two-run single in the second by Lonnie Chisenhall — and five hits in the first three innings, and pitched out of a couple of jams he created.
After getting out of a first-and-third bind in the fifth, Scherzer got in a groove and struck out four of the final five batters he faced. In the seventh, he gave up a single to Bourn, who was caught stealing. Scherzer then struck out Asdrubal Cabrera and blew a 97 mph fastball past All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis to end the inning — on his 117th pitch.
Scherzer screamed and pumped his fist as he headed to the dugout, slapping hands with catcher Brayan Pena before taking a seat to watch the Tigers hit.
Scherzer is expected to start for the AL next Tuesday at Citi Field in New York. Not only does he deserve the nod, but the team will be managed by Detroit’s Jim Leyland, who didn’t want to get into the possibility of naming Scherzer his starter with a week to go before the game.
Cleveland’s Scott Kazmir went pitch for pitch with Scherzer, allowing just two runs and four hits in 52/3 innings.
Kazmir held the top four hitters — Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder — in one of baseball’s most feared lineups without a hit in 11 at-bats.
With both the Indians and weather threatening in the second, the game was delayed by rain.
Thunder rumbled nearby and lightning flashed above Progressive Field as Scherzer battled Chisenhall with runners at second and third and two outs. The game was halted on a 2-2 count, and when play resumed 20 minutes later, Chisenhall jumped all over Scherzer’s first pitch for a two-run single.