DETROIT - Mike Aviles belted his first career grand slam in the ninth inning as visiting Cleveland avoided a three-game sweep.
The Indians broke open a scoreless game when Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley each drew a walk off Joaquin Benoit (4-1). Asdrubal Cabrera moved each runner up a base with a sacrifice bunt and Jason Kubel was intentionally walked to load the bases before Aviles sent a 2-2 slider just over the wall in left.
Joe Smith (6-2) worked around a hit and a walk in the eighth for the victory and Chris Perez overcame an eventful ninth to end it. The Indians, who trail the Tigers by 7 1/2 games in the American League Central and Tampa Bay by four games for the second wild-card spot in the AL, finished their season series against Detroit with a 4-15 record.
The Tigers made things interesting against Perez as Omar Infante hit a ground-rule double to deep left-center and Alex Avila reached on an infield single, but the ball struck Infante for the second out of the inning. Ramon Santiago followed with a single and both runners moved up on a passed ball, but Andy Dirks grounded out.
Detroit starter Justin Verlander yielded four hits over seven scoreless innings while counterpart Danny Salazar gave up six hits and struck out five over six frames. The Indians rookie avoided danger in the third when Aviles threw Avila out at home from third while Verlander did not allow a baserunner past second until the seventh.
By SportsDirect Inc.