CLEVELAND (AP) — Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3 Saturday despite losing a run on an appeal play.
Carlos Santana ruined Sanchez’s no-hit bid with a two-out triple in the seventh, but Cleveland was officially eliminated from the playoffs after falling to 16-45 since the All-Star break. Starter Justin Masterson (11-14) took the loss.
Sanchez (3-5) struck out seven over 6 2-3 innings as Detroit stayed one game behind the first place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central with its fourth straight win.
After Cleveland rallied, Jose Valverde, the fourth Tigers pitcher, worked the ninth for his 31st save in 35 chances.
Detroit got only one run instead of two in the fifth for a 4-0 lead when Alex Avila missed touching third while trying to score from second base.
With two outs, and Avila on second after an RBI double off Masterson, Quintin Berry hit a ball into the hole at shortstop, where Asdrubal Cabrera fielded it and threw to third to try and get Avila advancing. The wild throw sent Avila home and Berry to second.
Cleveland changed pitchers and reliever Tony Sipp stepped off the rubber and threw to third on an appeal as Berry broke for the bag in an attempted steal. Third-base ump Wally Bell ordered Berry back. The appeal happened again, with Berry again running, and this time Bell signaled out and took the run off the board.
Since Tigers manager Jim Leyland did not argue, it appeared that he had ordered Berry to run, hoping the Indians would tag him instead of stepping on the base. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall stood on the bag to take the throw, however, recording the out on Avila.
Sanchez had a perfect game until hitting Shin-Soo Choo in the leg with a pitch to open the fourth. Choo was erased when Santana hit into an inning-ending double play.
Cleveland got close to a hit with two outs in the sixth. No. 9 hitter Lou Marson grounded a ball up the middle that second baseman Omar Infante fielded behind the bag. Infante, acquired in a July 23 deal along with Sanchez from the Miami Marlins, whirled and made an off-balance throw that was picked by first baseman Cecil Fielder at his feet.
Sanchez, who was 5-7 with the Marlins before the trade this year, threw a no-hitter as a rookie six years ago. In just his 13th career start, he struck out six in a 2-0 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 6, 2006.
Detroit scored in the first before getting a hit. Masterson walked two and struck out two before Chisenhall misplayed a grounder by Brennan Boesch that gave Detroit a 1-0 lead. Avila followed with an RBI single. Masterson then notched another strikeout and followed with three more in the second.
Two singles and a sacrifice fly by Austin Jackson made it 3-0 in the fourth.
Miguel Cabrera hit his 37th homer leading off the seventh for a 5-0 lead.
Following Sanchez’ triple, rookie Russ Canzler broke up the shutout with an RBI double and Chisenhall singled him home. Phil Coke came on and struck out pinch hitter Matt LaPorta to end the rally.
Asdrubal Cabrera made it 5-3 with an RBI single in the eighth, after striking out three times in his return after missing four games with a sore right wrist.
NOTES: Leyland, on a one-year contract, says he hasn’t given thought about where he will be in 2013. “I’m thinking about how to beat the Cleveland Indians,” Leyland said before the game. “That will all take care of itself. There’s no sense asking about it because I don’t want to talk about me. We’re in a pennant race. I don’t want to be a distraction.” … Indians rookie RHP Cody Allen struck out all five batters he faced in relief. … Tigers OF Delmon Young didn’t start. He struck out as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded in the seventh, extending his slump to 5 for 30.
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