Miguel Cabrera 's hunt for another Triple Crown may resume on Sunday.
Detroit looks to wrap up another series sweep and an eighth straight victory over its closest pursuers in the AL Central.
Even without Cabrera in the lineup, the Tigers (80-56) kept rolling Saturday, picking up their 14th win in 15 tries against the Indians behind two Omar Infante home runs.
"Sometimes a team has got your number," Cleveland's Nick Swisher said after his team fell 8 1/2 games behind Detroit and remained 4 1/2 out of the second wild-card spot. "Just got to take it on the chin and keep moving. Keep fighting, that's all we can do."
Infante is batting .361 with two homers, three doubles, a triple and 10 RBIs in nine games against the Indians (71-64).
"Everybody knows Cabrera's a good hitter and we're better with him in the lineup," Infante said. "But we've got a good team. We've got good hitting. We've got everything."
Still, the Tigers hope to have their star back.
After making early exits on Thursday and Friday, Cabrera sat out Saturday's game with a strained left abdominal wall that has been bothering him for more than a month.
Cabrera didn't lose any ground in the Triple Crown chase - Baltimore's Chris Davis has gone three games without a home run - but that isn't general manager Dave Dombrowski's main concern.
"Our primary concern with Miguel Cabrera is his health," Dombrowski said. "As much as anybody would, we'd like to see him win the home run title, RBI title or Triple Crown, but he's playing for the good of the team."
Justin Verlander (12-10, 3.73 ERA) will look to bounce back from a pair of rough starts at Comerica Park in which he surrendered 11 runs in 12 innings.
Walks have been a problem of late, as the right-hander has surrendered three free passes in consecutive starts.
Home runs have also been a problem. After allowing 12 home runs through his first 24 starts, Verlander has yielded a long ball in four straight starts, giving up five overall.
Those two trends accounted for most of the damage Tuesday, when Verlander yielded five runs - three earned - in five innings of a 6-3 loss to Oakland.
A leadoff walk led to a two-run first inning for the Athletics.
"Even in that inning, there were times that I felt like I had really good stuff, but I couldn't control it," Verlander said. "I'd get in a rhythm for a couple pitches, and then get out of sync again."
Danny Salazar (1-2, 3.67) has also struggled with the long ball, surrendering five home runs over his last 21 innings.
On Tuesday, Salazar allowed two runs, three hits and two walks in four innings of a 2-0 loss to Atlanta.
Since throwing 103 pitches in his second start of the season, when he allowed four runs in 7 2-3 innings to Detroit, Salazar has yet to go beyond 77 in three starts.
Salazar's 120 innings between the major and minor leagues this season already far exceed his 87 2-3 in 2012.
"There's going to be a day when we can turn him loose and let that four turn into six or seven, but not right now," manager Terry Francona said.
Cabrera struck out his first three times against Salazar but homered in his final at-bat off the right-hander on Aug. 7, while Austin Jackson also homered.
Verlander has won three straight starts against the Indians, including eight innings of one-run ball on Aug. 6.
New acquisition Jason Kubel is 12 for 41 off Verlander with five doubles.
|August 30, 2013||Scott Barnes||60-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|August 28, 2013||Cord Phelps||60-Day DL||Right wrist inflammation|
|August 19, 2013||Ryan Raburn||15-Day DL||Strained left Achilles|
|August 06, 2013||Corey Kluber||15-Day DL||Sprained finger, right hand|
|July 20, 2013||Corey Kluber||Day-to-Day||Left hip tightness|
|June 04, 2013||Asdrubal Cabrera||15-Day DL||Right quadriceps strain|
|August 24, 2013||Jose Iglesias||Day-to-Day||Sore left elbow|
|August 17, 2013||Omar Infante||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back stiffness|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 11, 2013||Alex Avila||15-Day DL||Concussion|
|July 31, 2013||Miguel Cabrera||Day-to-Day||Strained lower abdomen|
|July 31, 2013||Luis Marte||15-Day DL||Recovery from right shoulder surgery|
DETROIT (AP) -- Mike Aviles initially was looking for a sacrifice fly that would snap a scoreless tie. He ended up with a game-breaking grand slam.
Aviles homered in the ninth inning to give the Cleveland Indians a much-needed 4-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, moments after he hoped one of his pop flies in foul territory would be caught.
Before sending a thigh-high pitch over the left-field fence for his ninth homer, Aviles hit two drives into foul territory, including one that second baseman Omar Infante almost caught.
"I wanted him to catch it," Aviles acknowledged. "I'm not even going to lie.
"I was hoping Infante was going to catch that ball, and I was hoping that Torii (Hunter) was going to catch the next one. Both of them would have had really tough throws to make."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Infante shouldn't have attempted to catch the foul ball because it would've allowed Cleveland to take a 1-0 lead right after Detroit intentionally loaded the bases in the hopes of getting an inning-ending double play.
"If you knew they were going to get a grand slam instead of one run, then you'd say catch it," Leyland joked.
The AL Central leaders had won seven straight against second-place Cleveland. The Tigers won the season series 15-4, a string of success that has helped them build a 7 1/2-game cushion in the division with a month left in the regular season.
"This feels really good because we're tired of not shaking hands at the end of games when we play that team," Aviles said. "That's a team built to win championships, and they are even tougher to beat in this place."
Detroit, which is 44-27 at home, rested Miguel Cabrera for a second straight game because of a strained abdomen. Leyland said he doesn't know when the banged-up star will be back in the lineup.
"According to the medical people, that thing can heal while playing," Leyland said.
Joe Smith (6-2) got the win after giving up one hit and a walk in the eighth, keeping the Tigers scoreless after Danny Salazar 's strong start.
That helped Cleveland avoid an 0-6 road trip.
"We needed this game because we've had a tough road trip and we haven't had a lot of success against those guys," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We want to keep playing until they make us stop."
Detroit tried to rally in the ninth, but a tough break on the bases proved costly.
Chris Perez gave up a one-out double to Infante, who was hit by Alex Avila 's liner for the second out. The right-hander let No. 9 hitter Ramon Santiago extend the inning with a single, and a passed ball put the runners in scoring position before Andy Dirks grounded out to end the game.
"I hope this was huge for the team," Aviles said.
Joaquin Benoit (4-1) walked Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley to start the top of the ninth.
Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a sacrifice bunt, putting runners at second and third. The Tigers intentionally walked Jason Kubel to load the bases for Aviles, the No. 8 hitter, who said he had "no idea" when he last hit a grand slam.
"I know I've hit a lot of them in my sleep," he said.
Aviles' previous slam was two years ago while playing for Triple-A Omaha, a Kansas City affiliate.
Detroit's Justin Verlander extended his winless streak to five outings, but held a team scoreless for the first time since a seven-inning start on July 14 against Texas.
"I felt really good. Definitely a good sign," he said.
Verlander gave up four hits and two walks - both in his shaky first inning - and struck out six, the last of which was Kubel on a 99 mph fastball with a runner on third for the second out of the seventh.
The Indians' starter, Salazar, also didn't give up a run. He allowed six hits without a walk and struck out five over six innings.
"He used his off-speed stuff more," Leyland said. "I was surprised. He's a very talented guy."
NOTES: The Tigers were also without center fielder Austin Jackson , a day after he hurt his right shoulder when he hit the wall trying to make a catch in Saturday night's win. ... Cleveland expanded its roster by five players, adding LHP Nick Hagadone , Jose Ramirez, 33-year-old C Kelly Shoppach , RHP Preston Guilmet and RHP Blake Wood . ... The Indians head home to play Baltimore on Monday night.