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CLE@DET: O. Cabrera singles to end the no-hit bid

DETROIT -- There wasn't any controversy this time.

On June 2 of last year, it was Jason Donald who broke up the perfect game of Detroit's Armando Galarraga with a controversial single with two outs in the ninth. On Tuesday -- the day Donald was sent from Triple-A Columbus to Double-A Akron -- Orlando Cabrera hit a 99-mph fastball from Justin Verlander with one out in the eighth. The ball landed in shallow center field to give the Indians their first hit of the game. A flick of the bat from Cabrera as he headed toward first was more an image of frustration than accomplishment.

The Indians, struggling to score runs over the past few weeks, broke up the no-hitter but fell to the Tigers, 4-0, and fell out of first place in the American League Central.

It is the first time since April 6 -- five games into the season -- that the Indians are not atop the division.

"We've been struggling, but I don't think too many teams could hit [Verlander] the way he was throwing the ball today," manager Manny Acta said.

Cabrera wouldn't talk about his bat flip, but he was shocked when he was told the pitch he hit was clocked at 99 mph.

"With that guy, you have to feel lucky any time you get a hit," Cabrera said. "That's just the way it is. He's such a competitive guy that he's a challenge every time. You can't give up, because [whether] you swung at a bad pitch or he threw you a good one, you have to keep battling, and you always wait for that pitch in the zone."

Verlander, who said he missed his location on that pitch by six inches, gave credit to Cabrera, who'd entered the game 13-for-40 all-time against him.

"Cabrera put a good swing on the pitch," Verlander said. "Sometimes you just tip your cap, and that's one of them. The fastball was up a little bit, more than I would've liked, but [it was] still on the outside corner, and he had a pretty good swing."

The Indians' inability to get a hit was representative of the slide they have been in over the last few weeks. Cleveland has scored two runs or fewer in nine of its last 11 games, and in four straight. As a result, the Indians have lost 10 of 12.

But Acta isn't worried so much about the Indians' place in the standings as he is how they've been playing.

"It's just another game," Acta said. "I think our kids are young, but they're not naïve. They know that there's no trophies handed out in June. I think everybody wants to be in first place, but I don't think anybody is expecting to win the division in June."

The Indians were 7-for-their-last-75 with runners in scoring position heading into the game, and the only reason they didn't struggle in that situation against the Tigers is because they never had a runner move past first base. Carlos Santana reached first on a hit-by-pitch in the first inning, Cabrera singled in the eighth and Santana singled in the ninth.

"Obviously, having a tough stretch -- whenever it is during the season -- you want to minimize it as much as possible," said Grady Sizemore, who went 0-for-4 with four of Verlander's 12 strikeouts from the leadoff spot. "Regardless whether it's April or September or June, it's just one of those things that when you get in one of those rough patches, you want to minimize it and shorten it as much as possible."

In a game in which there was little room for error, Indians starter Justin Masterson had command issues early, walking four in the first three innings, but he pitched well enough to give his team a chance.

The Tigers took advantage of some pitching and defensive errors in the third. After a leadoff single by Austin Jackson, Don Kelly reached when Orlando Cabrera couldn't come up with a tricky popup and was charged with an error. Next up, Brennan Boesch hit a shallow fly ball to left field, but Travis Buck appeared to lose the ball in the sun. The ball fell in, and the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs.

Miguel Cabrera drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, Andy Dirks drove in another on a single and Alex Avila scored a third on a sacrifice fly, giving the Tigers a three-run lead.

Masterson pitched well, giving up four runs (two earned) over 6 1/3 innings, but the offense continued its trend of giving little support to the starters. The Indians have scored 12 runs in Masterson's last seven starts.

"I felt like I had a great effort level," Masterson said. "I was making pitches when I needed to, and that's really all I can control. The longer you're in this game, you realize that the starting pitcher, he'll wear the Ws and the Ls, but it's a team game when it comes down to it. I wear both of them with pride. We win and lose as a team."

Masterson is wearing five Ws and five Ls. The five wins came in his first five starts, as the Indians scored fewer than seven runs just once in those starts. Since then the Indians have struggled to score, and Masterson has gone 0-5.

A three-run lead for Verlander is hard to overcome. Couple that with the Indians' recent offensive woes, and the task became much more difficult.

The Tigers had extended their lead to four runs before Orlando Cabrera broke up the no-hitter.

Yet as poorly as the Indians have played over the past few weeks, they're only one game out of first place. The Tigers had their struggles early, and the Indians are having theirs now. And as Acta said, there are no trophies handed out in June. But there's no doubt that the Indians need to start getting hits sooner rather than later.

"I think the guys, as you can see, we're not panicking," Orlando Cabrera said. "We know there are a lot of games left. We know Detroit is not going to go away, and I'm pretty sure they know we're not going to go away. Let's see who can come out on top at the end of September. I think we're going to stick around."

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