CLEVELAND (AP) — Travis Hafner homered and drove in four runs, Victor Martinez finished with three RBIs and the Cleveland Indians beat the Detroit Tigers 11-5 Thursday night.
Cleveland improved baseball's best home mark to 18-4 despite a rough outing by ace C.C. Sabathia (8-1), who allowed five runs and 10 hits in 7 1-3 innings. Sabathia, 5-0 at Jacobs Field, moved into a tie for the major league lead in wins.
Hafner hit a two-run drive in the first inning and Martinez's two-run homer capped a four-run fifth off Justin Verlander (5-2) as Cleveland improved to 4-0 against the defending AL champion Tigers.
Verlander gave up seven runs and eight hits over five-plus innings for Detroit, which lost for the sixth time in seven games and dropped 3 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central. The right-hander hit three batters with pitches, walked three, uncorked two wild pitches and struck out six.
Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield was ejected in the top of the fifth by plate umpire Greg Gibson after arguing a called strike, then breaking his bat on a groundout and angrily throwing the piece of wood still in his hands.
After running halfway to first, Sheffield whirled and came back at Gibson. Tigers manager Jim Leyland and catcher Ivan Rodriguez ran out of the dugout to restrain Sheffield, who repeatedly poked his finger toward Gibson's face.
Casey Blake singled with one out in the first inning and Hafner followed with a 430-foot drive into the trees beyond the center-field wall for his 10th homer and 2-0 lead. Hafner came in with only 17 hits in his last 74 at-bats (.230) but went 2-for-3 with two walks against the Tigers.
Craig Monroe's 100th career homer and eighth of the season got Detroit within 2-1 in the second.
The Tigers went ahead with a three-run third. Sheffield had an RBI double, Magglio Ordonez a run-scoring groundout and Marcus Thames an RBI single.
Grady Sizemore and Blake singled to start the Indians' fifth. Hafner tied it with a two-run single to center and Martinez hit a 2-1 pitch over the wall in right-center for his ninth homer to make it 6-4.
Martinez added a sacrifice fly in the sixth, giving him 10 RBIs in his last seven games, and Sizemore's two-run triple capped Cleveland's four-run eighth off Jose Mesa.