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Indians hit wild-card road bump in loss to Tigers

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Casey Blake made a mistake on the bases and
Rafael Betancourt made one on the mound. That was all the Detroit
Tigers needed to slow Cleveland's momentum in the AL wild-card
race.

Ivan Rodriguez homered to break a tie and Mike Maroth pitched
seven strong innings as the Tigers beat the Indians 4-3 Wednesday
night.

"That was exciting," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said after
Rodriguez hit the first pitch of the eighth inning from Betancourt
(2-3) for his 13th homer and a 3-2 lead.

Blake was much less exuberant in a subdued Cleveland clubhouse
after making a baserunning blunder. The Indians fell 1½ games
behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees and a half-game
behind the Los Angeles Angels, but lost for only the third time in
13 games -- completing a 19-8 August.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win up to the last at-bat,"
Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Raffy left a breaking ball up
and in and then Casey got caught in no-man's land. That just wasn't
a good play."

Maroth (12-12) went 4-1 in six starts in August. The left-hander
allowed only one walk over his last 5 2-3 innings. He gave up two
runs and three hits, striking out six.

Though he is 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his last seven starts
against Cleveland over two seasons, Maroth did no celebrating.

"My next start is against them, so I'm not saying anything,"
he said. "I don't know why it works for me against them."

Neither does Victor Martinez, who drove in all three Cleveland
runs, giving him 12 RBI in the last 10 games. He has hit .474
(18-for-38) with four homers over that span.

"If I knew, I'd do something about it," he said. "But he's
good at changing speeds and throwing strikes. Pitchers like that
are always tough."

Craig Dingman worked the eighth. Fernando Rodney pitched the
ninth, allowing Martinez's RBI double before getting pinch-hitter
Ben Broussard to ground out with a man on third for his seventh
save.

Blake doubled to open the Cleveland eighth, but was doubled off
second on an easy fly ball to left by Grady Sizemore to kill a
potential comeback.

"It was a terrible play," said Blake, who sat on second base
and hung his head for several seconds. "I wanted to see what kind
of throw they would make, but was too aggressive. I didn't realize
I was that far off the bag."

After Rodriguez put Detroit ahead, Dmitri Young lined a one-out
single for his third hit and was replaced by pinch-runner Nook
Logan.

Betancourt struck out Craig Monroe, but left-hander Scott
Sauerbeck gave up an RBI double to Carlos Pena to make it 4-2. Pena
came to bat hitting .097 (3-for-31) with 17 strikeouts against
lefties.

Magglio Ordonez hit a two-out RBI single and Young followed with
an RBI double for a 2-0 lead in the first inning off Cliff Lee.

Martinez's two-run single tied it in the bottom half.

"I give up two and Victor gets us back," Lee said. "That was
huge. It was like he erased what I did and we were back to 0-0."

Both starters then settled in.

Maroth didn't allow a hit after Aaron Boone's one-out double in
the second. He retired 15 in a row, including six on strikeouts,
until walking Ronnie Belliard with one out in the seventh.

Lee retired his last 10 after yielding a two-out double to
Monroe in the third -- the outfielder's first hit in 13 career
at-bats against the left-hander. Lee, 5-0 in his previous eight
starts, allowed two runs and three hits over six innings, walking
two and striking out five.

Game notes
The teams will return to Cleveland on Sept. 8 at 4:05 p.m.
to play the makeup of Tuesday night's rainout. That's after they
play three games in Detroit, Sept. 5-7. ... Indians RHP Matt Miller
and LHP Arthur Rhodes each pitched one perfect inning on rehab
assignments at Double-A Akron. ... Lee has worked at least five
innings in his last 26 starts since going only 3 1-3 in his season
debut on April 7. ... The Tigers have 23 homers in their last 13
games. ... Maroth is 5-0 at Jacobs Field. Only Pedro Martinez (6-0)
has a better record by an opponent at the 12-year-old ballpark. ...
Cleveland called up OF Franklin Gutierrez from Buffalo and he made
his major league debut in the ninth as a pinch runner.