CLEVELAND (AP) - The Detroit Tigers had another frustrating night at Progressive Field on Wednesday.
First baseman Prince Fielder's eighth-inning throwing error allowed the go-ahead run to score and the Tigers lost to the Cleveland Indians for the second straight night, dropping a 4-2 decision.
The Tigers, almost a consensus pick to win the AL Central, are 20-23 and trail the first-place Indians by five games. With a team that consists mostly of veteran players, manager Jim Leyland knows all he can do is wait for his talented club to start playing better.
``There's no changes to make,' he said. ``You have the players you play.'
Leyland could rattle off a long list of frustrating things that led to the latest defeat, Detroit's fifth loss in seven games. With the score tied at 2 in the eighth, Jason Kipnis singled off the glove of Phil Coke (1-1) with one out and took third on a double into the left-field corner by Asdrubal Cabrera.
Travis Hafner then grounded to Fielder, whose low throw handcuffed catcher Alex Avila for an error as Kipnis dove into the plate to score. Carlos Santana's sacrifice fly scored Cabrera.
``It clearly was inaccurate,' Fielder said of his throw. ``It didn't hit (Avila) in the glove. If I made the play it would have been easy, but I didn't.'
``That's what happens when you're not going good,' Leyland said. ``That's part of the game. I have no problem with that.'
Leyland thought the lack of clutch hitting played a bigger role in the loss. The Tigers were 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 baserunners. Detroit loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Miguel Cabrera grounded out to end the inning. The Tigers loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth, but failed to score.
``You can get runners out there, but you have to get them in,' Leyland said. ``It's pretty simple. There's no rocket science in this one.'
Hitting coach Lloyd McClendon was ejected by plate umpire Jerry Meals for yelling from the dugout in the bottom of the seventh. McClendon was still angry about a 3-0 pitch to Cabrera that was called a strike in the top of the inning, a pitch the Tigers thought was outside.
``I looked at the pitch,' Leyland said. ``It's not the best thing in the world when the guy doesn't come close to throwing a strike and throws what we all determined was without a question ball four.'
In the eighth with the bases loaded, Vinnie Pestano (2-0) struck out Jhonny Peralta, got Ramon Santiago on a weak grounder that forced a runner at home, and fired a called third strike past Avila, a pinch-hitter, on a 3-2 count.
The Tigers handed starter Doug Fister a 2-0 lead in the sixth, but he gave that right back when Hafner hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning.
The only silver lining for the Tigers is ace Justin Verlander, who came within two outs of throwing his third career no-hitter in his last start against Pittsburgh, will start Thursday's series finale.
``I assume Justin is going to pitch well, but you still have to score runs,' Leyland said.
``It feels good knowing that we have already won the series, knowing we have to go against Verlander,' said Indians manager Manny Acta.
Center fielder Austin Jackson missed his sixth straight game with a strained abdominal muscle. He was scratched from Tuesday's lineup after the injury flared up during batting practice. The Tigers are unsure when Jackson will play again and he could end up on the disabled list.
``There's no such thing as a minor injury,' Leyland said. ``I don't know what's going to happen with Austin Jackson. Austin Jackson cannot play right now.'
Jackson is batting .331 with five homers, 17 RBIs and 29 runs scored.
Chris Perez pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th consecutive save.
The Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the sixth off Indians starter Zach McAllister. Quintin Berry, called up from Triple-A Toledo and making his big-league debut at age 27, got his first career hit on a bunt between first and second. Second baseman Kipnis wasn't going to get the speedy Berry on the tough play, but when the ball rolled past him, Berry hustled to second for a double.
Andy Dirks followed with a line drive directly at right fielder Shin-Soo Choo, who broke in, then saw it go over his head for an RBI double. Dirks took third on Miguel Cabrera's flyout to right - then scored on a groundball by Fielder to make it 2-0.
Fister gave up five hits and two runs over 6 2-3 innings. The Tigers have scored nine runs in his five starts.
His last win was over Cleveland on Sept. 26, completing a sensational stretch for the right-hander. He went 7-0 with a 0.65 ERA in his last eight starts of 2011 to help the Tigers win the AL Central.
NOTES: The Tigers are 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position and have left 20 men on base in the series. ... C Gerald Laird started Wednesday, but Avila hit for him in the eighth. Leyland said Avila will catch Verlander on Thursday. ... Dirks was 1 for 4, and is batting .368 since May 5. He has raised his average from .282 to .336. ... The Tigers are 9-11 on the road.
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