CLEVELAND (AP) - Prior to Friday night's game, Detroit manager Jim Leyland said it looked like the Cleveland Indians were having a lot of fun.
A few hours later, fun was the last thing the Tigers were having.
Carlos Santana's game-winning grand slam with one out in the ninth inning off Joaquin Benoit gave the Indians a 9-5 win, sending the Tigers to their fourth straight loss.
The Tigers failed to hold a pair of three-run leads - 3-0 in the fourth inning and 5-2 in the seventh - and stranded 10 baserunners. But most importantly, they couldn't hold down the Indians, who scored all of their runs in the last four innings.
``We had opportunities to blow open the game and we didn't take advantage of that,' said catcher Alex Avila, who had a pair of sacrifice flies. ``It felt like we always had guys on base. They've been playing really good ball. A lot of things have been going their way. They get credit for coming back.'
Jack Hannahan singled up the middle to start the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Adam Everett. Grady Sizemore then lined a 2-1 pitch to right for a single, sending Everett to third. Leyland checked on Benoit, who had a broken finger nail clipped off by trainer Kevin Rand.
Asdrubal Cabrera, whose two-run homer in the seventh had tied the score 5-5, was walked intentionally, but Benoit (0-1) came back to strike out Shin-Soo Choo on three pitches. Santana delivered, driving a 3-1 pitch over the right-field wall.
Benoit had little to say following the game. The pitcher stood facing his locker, turned to waiting reporters and said, ``Are you guys waiting for me? Keep waiting.' He then walked away.
Avila offered an explanation of the game-losing pitch.
``We had to come in with a strike there,' he said. ``He hit it a long way. That's a tough situation. You can't walk the guy. You have to throw strikes, but at the same time you have to pitch.'
Chris Perez (1-1) pitched a perfect ninth for the win. He nearly allowed a leadoff homer to Miguel Cabrera, who drove Sizemore to the fence to catch his long drive. Cabrera, who hit a two-run homer in the first off Jeanmar Gomez, nearly homered in the fifth, again driving Sizemore to the wall.
The Indians have won 11 straight at home and remained unbeaten at Progressive Field since April 2 - their longest streak at home since winning 13 in a row in 1996.
The loss spoiled a strong outing by Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who was seeking to become Detroit's first pitcher with five wins before May 1 since Frank Tanana in 1988. The right-hander had a two-hit shutout until two outs in the sixth.
Cleveland quickly loaded the bases on a single by Cabrera and walks to Choo and Santana. Shelley Duncan, in the lineup in place of DH Travis Hafner, grounded a two-run single between third and short to get the Indians within 3-2.
The Tigers restored their three-run lead in the seventh on an RBI single by Jhonny Peralta and another sacrifice fly by Avila.
Matt LaPorta hit a solo homer off Scherzer with one out in the seventh, cutting the lead to 5-3. After Sizemore walked, Leyland visited the mound and talked with Scherzer. Cabrera drove the next pitch into the right-field seats to tie the game.
``He pitched a good ballgame,' Leyland said. ``I checked to see and he said he had plenty left. I wanted to make sure he was all right. He's one of my horses. He deserved to be out there. The guy hit a home run.'
Scherzer, who walked five, was more upset with the free pass to Sizemore than the home run.
``I want to be in that situation,' he said. ``I want the ball. I can live with that with that at-bat. I'm going to be aggressive with the fastball and challenge him with my best pitch. He put a good swing on it and hit it.'
Scherzer allowed five runs and struck out seven in 6 2-3 innings.
Miguel Cabrera's homer was his sixth and first by a Detroit batter in six games. He had two hits as he continued to pound Cleveland pitching. Since joining the Tigers in 2008, he is hitting .332 with 14 homers and 47 RBIs in 53 games against Cleveland.
Avila put Detroit ahead 3-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
NOTES: The Tigers took a bus to Cleveland following their day game in Detroit on Thursday. The trip took about 2 1/2 hours. The Tigers' team plane is being used by the Detroit Red Wings, who traveled to San Jose for their NHL playoff series. However, the Tigers had planned to bus to Cleveland even before their plan became unavailable. ... C/DH Victor Martinez (groin) is expected to come off the disabled list next week. Martinez began his career with the Indians before being traded to Boston in 2009. He signed with the Tigers in the offseason. ... Peralta, traded by Cleveland to Detroit last July, had one hit in four at_bats.
The Associated Press News Service
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