The Detroit Tigers suffered a significant loss before this series between the AL Central's top two clubs began.
The division leaders, though, continue to find a way to defeat the second-place Cleveland Indians.
Justin Verlander will try to guide the Tigers to a 10th consecutive victory Tuesday night at Progressive Field.
Detroit (65-45) entered this four-game series with plenty of momentum after capping off a perfect eight-game homestand with Sunday's 3-2, 12-inning victory over the Chicago White Sox. However, the Tigers found out Monday afternoon that All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta wouldn't appeal a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal.
"It will change the look of our ballclub a little bit, but we'll move on," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said before Monday's opener.
It didn't appear the Tigers were ready to do that Monday night before rallying in the ninth for a 4-2 victory on former Indian Victor Martinez's RBI single and three-run homer by Alex Avila off closer Chris Perez, who had converted his previous 11 save chances.
Detroit extended its division lead to four games and ended Cleveland's 11-game home winning streak.
"It feels good after all the stuff that happened before the game,' right fielder Torii Hunter said.
The Tigers, winners of six of seven at Progressive Field and 10 of 13 overall versus the Indians - now give the ball to Verlander (11-8, 3.88) as they try to extend their longest winning streak since a 12-game run Sept. 2-14, 2011.
It's been a rocky season for the 2011 MVP and AL Cy Young Award winner and six-time All-Star. The right-hander has already matched his 2012 loss total and has walked four fewer batters in 23 starts (56) than he did in 33 last year after issuing a season high-tying five free passes in Wednesday's 11-1 victory over Washington.
"My stuff was pretty good, but I was obviously erratic,' Verlander said after throwing six innings of one-run ball.
That's a good way to describe his season, as he's allowed five or more runs in six of 23 starts - including five in five innings of a 11-7 victory at Cleveland on May 22 - and one or none nine times.
"I don't think there's been any pitcher in baseball, probably, that's worked as hard as I have this season to try to get things right," Verlander, 2-1 with a 5.82 ERA against the Indians this season, told the Tigers' official website. "... I've given everything I possibly have to try to get things on the right path, and slowly but surely working in the right direction."
The Indians are hoping for more of the same from fellow All-Star Justin Masterson (13-7, 3.33), who will try to extend the club's brilliant run of starting pitching. With Corey Kluber throwing 7 1-3 scoreless innings Monday, the Indians' rotation has a 2.12 ERA over the last 25 games.
Masterson (13-7, 3.33) is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA during that span after giving up one run in 6 2-3 innings of Thursday's 6-1 victory over the White Sox.
"I was pitching and battling and trying to make things work," he said after his third straight winning start. "The overall sense is we played well as a team.'
Masterson, though, has a 7.71 ERA in losing both his starts to Detroit this year.
Martinez is 3 for 4 versus Masterson in those contests and 9 for 19 lifetime. The Tigers designated hitter is batting .400 against Indians pitching this season following Monday's three-hit effort.
MLB batting leader Miguel Cabrera, 12 for 34 with two homers off Masterson, finished with one hit in four at_bats Monday while making his first start in five games due to an abdominal strain.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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