DETROIT (AP) — Alex Avila's groundball rolled between first and second, and for a moment it looked as if his nightmarish day might have a happier finish.
Then Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis ranged well to his left, made the stop and tossed to pitcher Vinnie Pestano covering first.
"I was running like heck with my head down so I couldn't really tell," Avila said. "When I looked up, going at the bag, I saw Pestano covering and he made a good play."
Avila's groundout ended Detroit's 3-2 loss to the Cleveland Indians and knocked the Tigers a half-game back of Chicago in the AL Central. The White Sox were playing later Monday.
Asdrubal Cabrera's tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the seventh inning put Cleveland ahead and gave right-hander Corey Kluber 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."
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.
The 26-year-old Kluber (1-3) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings in his seventh career start. He struck out four and walked one.
Pestano allowed two baserunners in the ninth but escaped for his second save. 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 his grounder that nearly made it through but was foiled by Kipnis and Pestano.
"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."
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