DETROIT -- Cody Anderson went pitch-for-pitch with Justin Verlander and won a pitchers' duel, shutting down the Tigers' offense long enough for Francisco Lindor's two-run triple to send the Indians on their way to a 4-0 win in the rubber game of the series Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park.
"He was tremendous," Indians manager Terry Francona said of Anderson. "He kept his poise. I thought it was a tight strike zone at times today, but he kept competing and I thought he was very good."
The win ended a six-series losing streak for Cleveland in the rivalry. The Indians hadn't taken a series from the Tigers since winning three of four here last July. Cleveland also gained a game on Texas, which lost 7-0 to the Angels on Sunday, to move within five games of the American League's second Wild Card.
The pitching matchup strongly favored the Tigers keeping that streak intact. Verlander held Cleveland hitless for 4 2/3 innings with one fly ball after another another, but back-to-back ground-ball singles set up Lindor for the game-changing hit out of Anthony Gose's reach in center. Carlos Santana added an RBI single two batters later.
Meanwhile, Anderson, over seven innings, held Detroit to a Dixon Machado bunt single in the fourth and a Victor Martinez double leading off the fifth. Both hits were paired with walks to put runners at first and second with nobody out, but Anderson erased both chances with double-play grounders.
"He did a nice job," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We hit some balls decent, barreled some balls. Ball didn't seem to be traveling for us. You have to tip your cap to him."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Show and tell: With runners on first and second base and no outs in the sixth, Lindor squared around to bunt and fouled off a pitch from Verlander. The rookie shortstop showed bunt again, taking a second pitch for a ball. Verlander followed with a 92-mph fastball over the heart of the plate, but Lindor swung away, sending the ball to deep center for a two-run triple.
"They knew I was going to bunt," Lindor said. "There was a big chance of me bunting right there. It was just a matter of me executing, and I missed it. I missed the first pitch and, after that, it was time to hit, because they were coming in to catch the ball." More >
Machado in the middle: Verlander didn't allow a ground ball for the first 4 1/3 innings, but the first one he allowed was a test for rookie shortstop Machado. He ranged up the middle to run down Yan Gomes' grounder behind second base, then fired to first just in time for the out. It not only saved a hit, but may have saved a run as Abraham Almonte followed with a triple.
Anderson's escape: A leadoff double by Victor Martinez, followed by a walk by Nick Castellanos (on a questionable full-count call), put Detroit in an opportunistic situation to start the fifth. Anderson then fell behind in the count, 2-0, to Tyler Collins before fighting back and striking him out on with an elevated, full-count heater. Anderson then induced a 4-6-3 double play off the bat of James McCann to avoid any damage in the inning.
"He didn't ever let something bother him to the point where it was going to affect the game," Francona said. "You could see he thought it was a strike [to Castellanos], but then he gathered himself and was like, 'OK, let's go.' That's been a trademark of his early on. Even with his youth, man, everybody here knows that he's a tough kid."
Last chance in eighth: The Tigers had one more chance to get back in the game in the eighth inning once Anderson left. Bryan Shaw gave up a one-hit single to Collins, prompting Ausmus to take his chances with Ian Kinsler pinch-hitting for Andrew Romine with two out. Shaw fell behind, but got Kinsler to swing under a 3-0 cutter up in the zone, popping out with the potential tying run on deck.
"If he pops a home run, you make it a one-run game," Ausmus said.
"We actually kind of probably caught a break, because I just yelled at him. He turned around and I yelled at him to go ahead and hit. I think a lot of times with young players, they want to do the right thing, which is good. But, right there, with the infield crashing and them trying to straighten out their bunt plays, to let him swing seemed to make sense." -- Francona, on telling Lindor to swing away in the sixth inning.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Francona challenged an out call at first base in the sixth inning and had the initial ruling on the field overturned, following a replay review lasting 1 minute and 27 seconds. Jason Kipnis sent a grounder up the middle, where Romine, the second baseman, flipped the ball to Machado in an attempt to turn a double play. Cleveland's Michael Martinez was ruled safe at second, but first-base umpire Doug Eddings called Kipnis out after Machado's throw. Replays showed that Kipnis beat the throw by a step and the call was reversed accordingly. Lindor followed with a two-run triple to break a scoreless tie.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Cleveland heads to Chicago on Monday for a 2:10 p.m. ET tilt against the White Sox to begin a three-game set at U.S. Cellular Field. Right-hander Trevor Bauer (10-11, 4.56 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Indians, opposite lefty Chris Sale.
Tigers: Detroit welcomes former Tiger Drew Smyly and his Tampa Bay Rays to town for a three-game series beginning with a Labor Day matinee. Randy Wolf gets the start for the Detroiters in the 1:08 p.m. ET opener at Comerica Park.