DETROIT (AP) — Corey Kluber's day was already done when Cleveland scored a run in the seventh inning to make him the pitcher of record.
Then the Indians had to sweat out Detroit's ninth-inning rally before the right-hander could celebrate his first career victory.
"It's nice to get the first one out of the way," Kluber said. "Took a little while — longer than I would have liked — but, yeah, it's a great feeling."
Asdrubal Cabrera's tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh lifted the Indians to a 3-2 win over the Tigers on Monday. Kluber went six innings and got the victory, and Vinnie Pestano held on for the save.
Pestano allowed two baserunners in the ninth but escaped for his second save of the year. Prince Fielder doubled but was unable to move to third on Delmon Young's tapper. Brennan Boesch was hit by a pitch, but he and Fielder were stranded when Jhonny Peralta struck out and Avila hit a grounder between first and second.
Avila's hit nearly went through, but second baseman Jason Kipnis ranged to his left, fielded the ball and threw to Pestano covering first.
"That's one that people think gets monotonous in spring training because you work on that every single day," Cleveland manager Manny Acta said. "But it takes repetition to get it done right, and Jason Kipnis deserves a lot of credit. That was a tremendous play."
Detroit entered the day tied for first in the AL Central. The game was tied at 2 in the seventh when reliever Darin Downs (1-1) allowed two singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. Cabrera then lifted a fly to center off Brayan Villarreal.
Kluber (1-3) allowed two runs and six hits in his seventh career start. He struck out four and walked one.
"He's got good stuff — big, strong kid, throws hard, has a lot of movement," Avila said. "Just did a really good job today of mixing it up, keeping everybody off balance and just kind of limiting those mistakes and making a pitch when he needed to."