CLEVELAND (AP) — Max Scherzer didn’t care that his record stayed spotless. All that mattered to him was that Detroit’s improved.
Scherzer remained unbeaten and Victor Martinez hit a two-run double in the 10th inning as the 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 3½ games ahead in the division.
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 unblemished mark into a start on Saturday against Texas.
“I don’t want to focus much on that (being 13-0),” he said. “This was our best win of the year, and I was proud to be a part of it. The Indians battled so hard tonight and brought their ‘A’ game, and we did, too.
“It was just a great team win, our best of the year.”
Drew Smyly (4-0) worked out of a jam in the ninth and Joaquin Benoit pitched the 10th for his seventh save, striking out Mike Aviles with runners at first and third to end the game.
Matt Tuiasosopo homered for the Tigers, now 9-3 against the Indians.
Detroit was able to widen its lead over Cleveland by two games on this visit, but manager Jim Leyland knows champions aren’t crowned in July.
“We came in and had a very good series against a very good team, but I’m not really concerned about the standings,” Leyland said. “Of course, I’d rather leave here up 3½ games than up 1½ games. But trust me, the Indians are not going anywhere, and we’re not going anywhere, I don’t think.”
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 year.
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.
“He used to be a thrower and now he’s a pitcher,” Indians first baseman Nick Swisher said. “You’ve got a guy with all those weapons and he starts to figure it out, that doesn’t make anybody happy.”
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.
“You can usually judge your outing on the last 15 pitches, and I thought I finished pretty strong,” Scherzer said.
Cleveland’s Scott Kazmir went pitch for pitch with Scherzer, allowing just two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 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. The only one of the four to reach base was Cabrera, who walked with one out in the third.
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, ripping a changeup to right for a two-run single.
When he returned to the dugout, Scherzer slammed his glove and cap down in disgust. After the game, he said he was upset that umpire Joe West did not let him finish the at-bat to Chisenhall.
He was mad again in the third, when the Indians loaded the bases on a pair of two-out singles and walk. But Scherzer snagged a comebacker by Aviles and carefully underhanded the ball to first for the final out.
The Indians had their chances against Scherzer, and stranded 10 runners in all.
“It’s just kind of one of those games,” Swisher said. “We left a small village on the sacks. We’ve got to do a little better job there, but that’s how baseball goes.”
NOTES: The Tigers have won 12 of the last 16 against the Indians, outscoring them 100-59 during that stretch. … Tigers 2B Omar Infante (bruised shin) sat out his fifth straight game, but remains day to day. … Scherzer had his 19th straight start without a loss, passing Bobo Newsom for the franchise record. … Detroit went 7-4 on its longest trip this season. The Tigers open a three-game series against the last-place White Sox on Tuesday with Verlander (9-5) facing Jose Quintana (3-2).