Created on Tuesday, 09 July 2013 Written by TOM WITHERS,AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Nick Swisher rounded third, lost his footing in the soggy grass and fell flat on his face.
The Indians slipped some, too.
Unable to push across the winning run in the ninth inning, Cleveland lost 4-2 in 10 to Detroit on Monday night and fell another game behind the first-place Tigers in the AL Central.
The Indians dropped three of four to the defending division champions, who got a two-run double in the 10th from Victor Martinez off Matt Albers (1-2) and left town two games further ahead in the standings than when they arrived.
Detroit improved to 9-3 this season against Cleveland, which had some early scoring chances against unbeaten Max Scherzer and stranded 10 runners, including Drew Stubbs, who was left at second in the ninth.
"We left a small village on the sacks," said Swisher, who had two rough moments on the bases. "We've got to do a little better job there, but that's how baseball goes."
With the score tied 2-all, Mark Reynolds opened the ninth with a single off Bruce Rondon and Stubbs came in to pinch run. Drew Smyly (4-0) entered and his first pitch got by catcher Brayan Pena, allowing Stubbs to take second on the passed ball. Lonnie Chisenhall flied to center, but not deep enough to advance Stubbs.
Yan Gomes struck out and Michael Bourn flied out to end the inning and Cleveland's last chance to avoid extras.
Manager Terry Francona said he considered having Chisenhall bunt, and he was hoping Stubbs could steal third but said the speedy outfielder was having trouble getting traction on the wet dirt.
In the 10th, Albers got two quick outs before walking Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Martinez followed with a drive over Bourn's head that 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.
"For us, it's a frustrating loss," Swisher said.
Cleveland threatened again in the 10th against closer Joaquin Benoit. With two outs, Swisher singled and moved up on defensive indifference. Michael Brantley followed with a single to right, and it appeared Swisher would score easily, but his feet went out from under him and he was forced to retreat to third.
It wasn't Swisher's only moment of embarrassment.
Leading off the eighth, he hit a squibber that hugged the third-base line and eventually rolled fair. However, Swisher never left the plate area and was tagged out by Pena.
"It's just a lesson learned the hard way," Francona said.
Swisher didn't offer any excuses.
"I thought it was going to go foul," he said. "In hindsight, I should have ran."
Benoit then struck out Mike Aviles for his seventh save.
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."
Detroit widened 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."
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 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," Swisher said. "You've got a guy with all those weapons and he starts to figure it out, that doesn't make anybody happy."
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.
NOTES: Indians 1B Mark Reynolds snapped an 0-for-24 drought with an infield single in the fourth. ... Chisenhall is batting .304 (17 of 56) with two homers and nine RBIs since being recalled from Triple-A Columbus on June 18. ... Former Indians SS Omar Vizquel was honored with a bobblehead giveaway and threw out the ceremonial first pitch to teammate Sandy Alomar Jr. ... The Indians open a three-game series Tuesday with Toronto. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4) faces RHP Josh Johnson (1-3).