Detroit, MI, United States (4E Sports) – Mike Aviles drilled a grand slam in the ninth inning as the Cleveland Indians snapped a four-game losing streak with a 4-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers Sunday at Comerica Park.
Aviles smacked Joaquin Benoit’s 2-2 slider into Detroit’s bullpen for the victory that ended the Indians’ seven-game losing streak to the Tigers.
The Indians (72-64) are now 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Tigers in the American League Central, and will be 4 1/2 games back of the AL’s second Wild Card spot at most, pending Tampa Bay’s outcome later Sunday.
Indians starter Danny Salazar pitched six shutout innings, giving up six hits and striking out five for a no-decision. Though he threw only 77 pitches, it was his longest start since throwing 103 pitches over 7 2/3 innings on Aug. 7 against Detroit (80-57).
Joe Smith earned his sixth win of the year after tossing a scoreless eighth inning, while Chris Perez closed the door for the Tigers with a scoreless ninth.
Justin Verlander tossed seven shutout frames with four hits, two walks and six strikeouts and looked headed for victory until Benoit’s misfortune.
After giving up 14 in 2012, the homer was just the fourth of the year off Benoit (4-1), who absorbed his first loss since Aug. 9 of last season.
In the first inning, the Indians put runners on first and second with one out after a couple of walks issued by Verlander. However, Verlander escaped the jam after a Carlos Santana lineout and a Michael Brantley strikeout.
In the seventh inning, Brantley hit a leadoff single to center and stole second. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Verlander struck out Jason Kubel on a 99-mph fastball forced Aviles to a ground out to end the frame.
In the ninth, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley walked to start the ninth before advancing on a sacrifice bunt by Asdrubal Cabrera.
The Tigers intentionally walked Jason Kubel to keep their double-play options available, but Aviles drilled a 2-2 slider into Detroit’s bullpen for a four-run lead.