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Tribe has chance, can't score for Lee

Tribe has chance, can't score for Lee
Tigers 3

Indians 1

Detroit - The Indians usually get a lot of scoring chances against Justin Verlander. The guy throws 100 mph, but when he pitches against the Indians he almost never knows where it's going.

In leading the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 victory over the Indians on Sunday, Verlander knew exactly where the ball was going. But there's a reason he's 5-10 lifetime against the Tribe, and that reason presented manager Eric Wedge's befuddled team with a chance for victory in the seventh inning.

Verlander, varying his speeds from 78 mph to 100 mph, entered the seventh with the score tied, 1-1. Cliff Lee, who allowed a career-high 12 hits, was not nearly as overpowering, but he was matching Verlander, scoreless inning for scoreless inning.

In the seventh, however, it was time for offense.

The Indians loaded the bases with no one out on a walk by Shin-Soo Choo, Mark DeRosa's double and an intentional walk to hot-hitting David Dellucci.

It looked like the Indians would soon be in the lead, but looks can be deceiving. The next three hitters in Wedge's lineup were strikeout-prone Kelly Shoppach, Matt LaPorta and Luis Valbuena. Rookies LaPorta and Valbuena were making their Cleveland debuts after joining the team from Class AAA Columbus on Saturday.

Shoppach hit a fly ball to right field that was too shallow to score Choo for the first out.

LaPorta showed some moxie. He tried to disrupt Verlander's timing by stepping out of the box. Verlander answered by stepping off the rubber.

Verlander's first pitch was a ball. Then he jumped ahead of LaPorta with a called strike and a foul ball. LaPorta fouled off three more pitches.

"I really liked the way he worked his way through that at-bat," said Wedge.

Verlander's seventh pitch of the at-bat was a ball to make it 3-2. LaPorta stepped out again. Verlander stared at him from the rubber. Then he threw a breaking ball past LaPorta for strike three. LaPorta's bat never moved.

Valbuena grounded into a force play at second with the crowd of 27,411 standing and cheering. Verlander (2-2, 5.66) pumped his fist as he walked off the mound. The score was still tied, but the Indians were done.

"That 3-2 breaking ball is just one of those things," said LaPorta. "Like Vic [Martinez] said, 'You have to pick one or another between his breaking ball and fastball.' I looked up at the scoreboard one time, and one pitch was 100 mph. . . . Gosh."

Wedge had pinch hitters available in Jhonny Peralta, Ben Francisco, Ryan Garko and Josh Barfield. They stayed seated.

"If we're going to pinch-hit right there, we wouldn't have started them [LaPorta and Valbuena]," said Wedge. "It's not like it was a different pitcher out there. They'd each seen Verlander a couple of times. We have kind of an advantage there because Verlander doesn't know those guys."

Verlander allowed two hits and one run in 121 pitches. He struck out a season-high 11 batters. Indians hitters lead the AL with 203 strikeouts.

The Tigers, riding Verlander's momentum, opened the seventh with consecutive doubles by Dane Sardinha and Curtis Granderson for a 2-1 lead. Placido Polanco moved Granderson to third with a ground out, and Magglio Ordonez made it 3-1 with a single through the middle of a pulled-in infield.

Lee (1-4, 3.92 ERA) allowed three runs in seven innings. He struck out four and walked one on 114 pitches.

He's 0-2 with a 1.96 ERA (five runs in 23 innings) in his past three starts. The Indians have scored two runs in those games.

"Things like that happen," said Lee. "It's out of my control."

Verlander, Bobby Seay, Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney combined on a three-hitter. Rodney pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his sixth save.

The Indians (9-16) have lost seven of their past 10 games. They're 5-7 in the AL Central. Their longest winning streak so far this season has been two games.

Brandon Inge, hitting .394 (13-for-33) against Lee, gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with a leadoff homer in the second. Asdrubal Cabrera tied it with a two-out single in the third.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-5158

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 5, 2009

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