Created on Thursday, 23 May 2013 Written by TOM WITHERS,AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians ended a long day at the ballpark soggy and sleepy.
Ubaldo Jimenez was chased after four innings and two rain delays crushed Cleveland's momentum Wednesday night in an 11-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers, who swept both games from the Indians and climbed within a half-game of first place in the AL Central.
The Tigers built a 9-2 lead off Jimenez (3-3) and David Huff, and the Indians got within two in the sixth only to have rain stop the game for a second time in the eighth. It didn't help that center fielder Michael Bourn knocked Miguel Cabrera's fly ball over the wall in the eighth for a two-run homer that made it 11-7.
The game, which started at 7:05 p.m., didn't end until Jason Giambi flied out at 12:28 a.m.
"I'm so tired," Indians third baseman Mark Reynolds said. "I can't wait to get on the plane to Boston and get some sleep."
After sweeping four games from Seattle, winning three of them on walk-offs, the Indians were slowed by the Tigers, who got a dominant performance by Max Scherzer on Tuesday and then just enough from Justin Verlander (5-4) to trim Cleveland's lead in the division.
"They just ended up scoring more runs than us," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We had guys grinding until the end."
Verlander wasn't about to let a win slip away in the rain.
The ace returned to the mound after sitting through a 62-minute rain delay to get his fifth win and Cabrera hit another homer — maybe the luckiest of his career — as the Tigers outslugged the Indians.
Verlander was two outs from qualifying for a victory, when the game was stopped with the Tigers leading 9-5 in the fifth. The right-hander came back after the weather break and finished the inning to get the win, ending a run of five straight victories by the Indians over former Cy Young Award winners.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said his general rule is to not let a pitcher return after sitting more than an hour. However, he made an exception because it was so close, and because Verlander is Verlander.
"Since I've been here, he's been our horse," Leyland. "He has earned that right. I thought he deserved it."
After the long delay in the fifth, the game was stopped for another 48 minutes in the eighth.
The second stoppage seemed to drain the Indians, who went quietly in the final three innings.
"Every time we would get something going, the rain would come and kind of kill things," Reynolds said. "It is what it is. There's nothing you can do about Mother Nature."
Victor Martinez hit two sacrifice flies off Jimenez (3-3), who had his shortest outing this season. The right-hander allowed six runs and seven hits in four innings.
"I didn't have command of fastball or breaking balls," Jimenez said. "I couldn't throw any of my breaking balls."
After the second rain delay, Cabrera connected for a two-run homer off Rich Hill.
It was the slugger's fifth homer in three games and 13th this season. The shot to right-center was helped over the wall by Bourn, who ran back to the warning track and was in position to make the catch but had the ball bounce out of his glove and into the stands.
"It was a lucky home run," Cabrera said. "I was surprised. That's never happened to me."
Francona felt bad for Bourn, who made a sensational running catch to rob Omar Infante of extra bases in the seventh.
"It almost catapulted off his glove," Francona said. "That kid gave us every ounce of everything he had tonight. That play didn't work out, but I'm glad he's on our side."
Carlos Santana hit a two-run homer and Yan Gomes connected for the Indians, who will open a four-game series in Boston on Thursday — Francona's return to Fenway Park for the first time since leaving the Red Sox.
Verlander wasn't sharp for the third straight outing, allowing five runs and 10 hits. He walked one and struck out nine, but the five-time All-Star wasn't about to let a win slip away because of the weather.
While the grounds crew hauled out the tarp to cover the field in the fifth, Verlander stood on the mound and gave an incredulous look to umpire Tim Welke, the crew chief working second base. Verlander was aware a possible victory was being washed away since he would likely not be coming back after the delay.
As the tarp was still being rolled up nearly an hour later, Verlander went back out to warm up without his teammates and stayed in the game despite a lengthy wait between his 100th and 101st pitches.
Verlander knew during the stoppage that Leyland might not be willing to let him resume pitching.
"I was very much paying attention to the clock," he said. "I was kind of lobbying to Jim during the rain delay. If it was five minutes more, I was done."
When play resumed, he retired Reynolds on a grounder to third and struck out Ryan Raburn looking.
Verlander may be one of the AL's most dominant pitchers, but the 2011 Cy Young winner has only been average against the Indians. He came in 14-14 in 31 career starts against Cleveland, which had already beaten him once this year.
The Indians had Verlander on the ropes in the second, but couldn't come up with the big hit. Verlander gave up just one run and worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded situation by getting Brantley on a force.
The next time he took the mound, Verlander had a four-run cushion as the Tigers took advantage of two walks to score four runs and take a 6-2 lead.
NOTES: Francona said 1B Nick Swisher will rejoin the Indians in time for Friday's game in Boston. Swisher was placed on the paternity list Wednesday after his wife, JoAnna, had the couple's first child, a girl. ... Santana's homer was his first RBI since May 10, a span of 11 games. ... Reynolds is in a 4-for-36 slump in his past 10 games.