DETROIT -- The Indians were defeated, 7-1, in the series finale at Comerica Park on Wednesday night, but it did not reflect how well starter Ubaldo Jimenez pitched.
"If you weren't here or [don't] pay attention to it and see the box score, you probably don't think it was a good game," manager Manny Acta said. "But it was a very good ballgame up until that [eighth] inning. That was the only bad inning of pitching we had the whole series."
For the majority of the game, it had been a pitchers' duel between Jimenez and Tigers right-hander Doug Fister. It was a one-run game until the Tigers broke it open in the eighth.
Jimenez entered the night with a 5.61 ERA on the season -- the second-worst mark in the American League -- and a 1-7 record since the All-Star break. Through the first seven innings, his effort was worthy of a victory.
The 28-year-old made one mistake early. It came in the first inning against one of the best hitters in baseball. Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera belted his 35th home run of the season, a two-run shot to left field on a 94-mph fastball.
"To tell you the truth, the first guy got a bloop single and Cabrera, he hit a pitch away," Jimenez said. "He's a good hitter. He just took it to that side. It wasn't like I was fighting behind the count or walking people, he's just a great hitter."
After that, he would retire 12 of the next 13 Tigers that came to the plate, and set down nine in a row before catcher Alex Avila singled in the sixth inning to end the streak.
"The thing about him is if he's throwing strikes, he's going to be nasty, especially with his offspeed stuff," Avila said. "He was pretty good. You have to give them credit, their staff pitched really well this series."
The wheels fell off on Jimenez's hopes for a win and a three-game sweep.
Jimenez walked Austin Jackson in the eighth inning with one out and promptly gave up an RBI triple to Andy Dirks to make the score 3-1. While Jimenez struggled in the eighth, it seemed to be the right choice to let him go after just 81 pitches.
"That's part of how everything's going for me right now," Jimenez said. "When I pitch bad, I lose the game. Sometimes pitching good or one mistake, one pitch, one inning, I still lose the game. That's the way this year goes."
Cody Allen was the replacement to face Cabrera, who hit a sacrifice fly to add to the Tigers' lead. Allen would allow three more runs on a home run by Prince Fielder and a two-run double by Jhonny Peralta.
Jimenez's stats line of four earned runs allowed didn't show his dominance for five of his 7 1/3 innings. It was his first time even making it through seven innings since July 2.
But as Jimenez rolled, so did Fister.
Working with the early two-run lead, he retired nine of the first 10 hitters he saw -- the lone single coming by second baseman Jason Kipnis in the first inning.
It was in the top of the fourth that the Indians would scratch a run across the plate. Kipnis again singled and Acta put on the hit and run, allowing Kipnis to go first to third on a Carlos Santana base hit. Michael Brantley drove in the runner to make it 2-1.
Fister recovered and allowed one walk the rest of his seven innings, which was wiped out on a double play by Santana in the sixth.
"If you're not aggressive early in the count, he starts cutting the ball and sinking the ball and then throwing that comeback fastball," Acta said. "The only time we had success against him, which has been rarely, has been when we've been aggressive early. ... If you let him get on top of you, you're in trouble."
And the Tribe was clearly in trouble as Fister was brilliant for seven innings, allowing one run on four hits.
Still, Acta couldn't have been happier with the team's effort in the series. At 16 1/2 games back in the American League Central, they might be out of the hunt for October, but they're still playing hard.
Perhaps no moment made that more clear than third baseman Jason Donald sacrificing his body and diving into the front row to catch a foul ball to retire Brennan Boesch.
"Great play," Acta said. "He went after it and the video is almost more impressive than what we saw [live]. He was almost parallel to the ground. But these guys all get after it, whether we win or lose and that's all I can ask of them."
Although it won't appear that way at first glance, they certainly went after it Wednesday night.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.