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CLEVELAND (AP) — Mike Clevinger grew up watching Justin Verlander dominate opposing hitters. Lately, the Cleveland right-hander has had the Detroit ace's number.
Clevinger, who made it to the big leagues last season, outpitched Verlander for the second time in a week to lead the Indians to a 4-0 victory over the Tigers on Saturday night.
"It's a little surreal," Clevinger said after allowing three hits in six innings. "When he made his mark, I was 16. Any right-handed pitcher, especially, the second he got on the scenes, he had the 100 mile-an-hour fastball and the power curveball, that's what everyone looked up to, wanting to be him."
Clevinger (5-3) allowed only one runner to reach second base and won his third straight decision.
Verlander (5-6) gave up one run in 6 2/3 innings. The right-hander struck out six after the Indians snapped his streak of 331 consecutive games with at least one strikeout last Sunday.
Verlander lost to Cleveland for the 24th time in his career, the most losses he's had against any team, and is 1-3 this season.
"I don't think there has been a team that's battled against me better than them over the last couple years," he said. "If you take the Indians out of the equation, I've had a pretty good year. But with them in it, I haven't pitched very well."
All-Star Michael Brantley broke a scoreless tie with an RBI double in the fifth, hitting a 3-2 pitch to right-center that scored Francisco Lindor, who reached on a two-out single.
Brantley is batting .289 (22 for 76) with 10 RBIs lifetime against Verlander.
"It's a battle every time," Brantley said. "He's a great pitcher. He's their ace."
Cleveland scored three in the eighth off Bruce Rondon. Carlos Santana, returning after three days on the paternity list, had an RBI double and scored on rookie Bradley Zimmer's triple. Yan Gomes added a sacrifice fly.
The Indians played their fifth straight game without manager Terry Francona. He was released from the Cleveland Clinic on Friday night, one day after undergoing a cardiac ablation for an irregular heartbeat. Francona was resting at his downtown residence following a heart procedure and four-day hospital stay.
Francona won't manage Tuesday night's All-Star Game in Miami and is expected to rejoin the Indians and assume his usual duties July 14 when the team opens a three-game series in Oakland. Bench coach Brad Mills is running the team with Francona out.
Verlander was removed with two on in the seventh and threw 115 pitches. His name has been mentioned in trade rumors as the Tigers fall further back in the AL Central.
"Everything felt better," he said. "I felt really good. But this is the end of a lousy first half."
Clevinger retired Miguel Cabrera on a hard grounder to the mound with a man on to end the sixth. The ball hit off Clevinger's leg and rolled a few feet away, but he recovered and threw to first.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis strained his right hamstring running out a grounder in the third and was replaced by Erik Gonzalez.
GOOD COFFEE, TOO
Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez's popularity grows by the day. A late surge in fan voting resulted in him being the starting third baseman in the All-Star Game. A local coffee company has introduced a blend named "Jose Jose," in honor of the chant heard nightly at Progressive Field. Ramirez handed out bags of the coffee in the concourse before the game.
GETTING TO THE POINT
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus knew his team didn't do the job against Clevinger.
"We had three hits against the guy — and three hits generally doesn't get it done," he said.
Tigers: LHP Anthony Gose (strained elbow) was placed on the disabled list at Single-A Lakeland. The former outfielder has made 11 appearances in his first season as a pitcher, posting a 7.59 ERA.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (sore shoulder) will make a minor league rehab start at Single-A Mahoning Valley on Tuesday.
Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer ranks second in the American League with 14 quality starts. The first-time All-Star is 1-2 with a 6.98 ERA in four career starts against Cleveland.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber — named to his second AL All-Star team — seeks to extend his franchise-record streak of five straight games with double-digit strikeouts.
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