CLEVELAND (AP) - The Cleveland Indians entered their four-game series against Detroit with high hopes. They ended it with utilityman Ryan Raburn on the mound.
The Tigers posted their 12th straight victory and completed a sweep of the Indians with a 10-3 rout on Thursday night. Cleveland fell a season-high seven games out of first place in the American League Central, prompting Indians players to hold a short team meeting after the final pitch.
``Tonight was a tough night, and this was a terrible, a tough series,' Indians manager Terry Francona said. ``It's a hard way to play, but we'll come back (Friday) and see if we can do better. We got beat up a little bit - and when I say we, I mean we - but we'll be fine. I believe that.'
The Tigers outscored Cleveland in the series 25-11, earning their first four-game sweep at the Indians since June 9-12, 1988 at Cleveland Stadium.
Cleveland infielder Mike Aviles would like to forget about the series as soon as possible.
``There is nothing we can do about the last four games now, so we've just got to come out and worry about (Friday),' he said.
Detroit rocked right-hander Zach McAllister (4-7) for a season-high six runs in 2 1-3 innings, forcing Francona to go to his overworked bullpen much earlier than expected.
Preston Guilmet, Matt Albers and Marc Rzepczynski got Cleveland through the eighth, but Francona said he didn't want to waste another reliever to finish the game. Enter Raburn, who volunteered to pitch for the first time as a professional.
Raburn tossed a perfect inning, striking out Matt Tuiasosopo and inducing groundouts by Brayan Pena and Hernan Perez. He became the first Indians position player to pitch since third baseman Andy Marte on July 29, 2010 against the Yankees.
``I told my agent we've got to renegotiate a little bit because I'm a two-way player now,' quipped Raburn, who signed a two-year, $4.85 million contract extension one day earlier. ``Pitching is something I always wanted to do, so now I can check that off my list. Hopefully, we never come to that spot where I need to do it again.'
Raburn was given a standing ovation by the 25,131 fans as he left the field. Tigers manager Jim Leyland also enjoyed the outing by Raburn, who played the last six seasons with Detroit and was drafted by the team in 2001.
``They're making him earn that contract extension,' Leyland said.
The Indians had won 10 of 11 games heading into their showdown with the Tigers, but lost all of their momentum in the opener Monday when closer Chris Perez turned a two-run, ninth-inning lead into a 4-2 defeat. Cleveland ace Justin Masterson dropped a 5-1 decision Tuesday, while rookie Danny Salazar had his Wednesday gem spoiled when Miguel Cabrera homered in the eighth inning of a 6-5, 14-inning loss.
McAllister (4-7) kept the bad times rolling with his shortest start of the year, digging the Indians a 6-0 hole by surrendering six runs in the top of the third. The right-hander allowed five earned runs on four hits and four walks, including a bases-loaded free pass to Cabrera that opened the scoring.
``I didn't have command and it killed me today,' said McAllister, who is 0-4 with a 5.83 ERA since his last win on May 28. ``I just got out of sync early, so we didn't win the game like we obviously wanted to.'
Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer (17-1) allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, becoming the first 17-game winner in the majors this year. He struck out five, reaching 1,000 for his career by whiffing Jason Kipnis in the first inning.
Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera accounted for both runs off Scherzer with RBI doubles in the fourth and sixth, while Kipnis scored on a ninth-inning error against Phil Coke.
Prior to the game, the Indians designated first baseman Mark Reynolds for assignment. He was batting .215 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs in 99 games, but hadn't homered since June 28 and was hitting .187 (47-for-252) since May 1.
Guilmet was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to take Reynolds' roster spot. He pitched 2 2-3 innings and gave up four runs on six hits. It's expected Guilmet will be optioned back to Columbus before Friday's game.
NOTES: Indians RHP Danny Salazar has 17 strikeouts in his first two major league starts, including 10 in 7 2-3 innings Wednesday against the Tigers. ``For a guy I didn't know anything about, I ain't seen anything better than that,' Leyland said. ``He had real good poise, really impressive command, good delivery, control. That guy is good.' ... Indians RHP Josh Tomlin (right elbow surgery) pitched three scoreless innings Wednesday on his rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Akron. Tomlin underwent Tommy John surgery last Aug. 22 and is on the 60-day disabled list. ... The Indians wrap up their seven-game homestand with a three-game series against the Angels. Cleveland LHP Scott Kazmir (7-4) takes on Los Angeles RHP Jered Weaver (6-5) in the opener Friday.
The Associated Press News Service
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