Indians manager Terry Francona says he did not consider leaving struggling closer Chris Perez off the wild-card roster.
CLEVELAND - Chris Perez, greeted by a standing ovation from the time he left the bullpen, worked another scary ninth inning for his 14th save as the Cleveland Indians ended a 10-game losing streak to Detroit with a 5-3 win over the Tigers on Tuesday night.
Perez had been critical of recent booing during an appearance and called the Indians' major league-worst attendance "an embarrassment" for a first-place club. He put two runners on in the ninth before striking out Miguel Cabrera and then getting Prince Fielder on a grounder to short.
Perez hasn't blown a save since opening day.
Ubaldo Jimenez (5-3) cautiously worked through the meat of Detroit's lineup and lasted six innings as the first-place Indians beat the AL Central favorites and Rick Porcello (4-3).
Travis Hafner had two RBIs for the Indians, who hadn't beaten the Tigers since Aug. 10 last season.
With Cleveland leading 5-3, Perez jogged in from the bullpen as Prodigy's "Firestarter" boomed from Progressive Field's loudspeakers. There wasn't a single boo to be heard as the right-hander kicked the dirt around the rubber.
After getting one out, he walked Ramon Santiago and when Andy Dirks followed with a single, the 15,049 fans -- many of them Detroit backers -- grew restless. But Perez fanned Cabrera looking, punctuating his strikeout with a fist pump. He then retired Fielder on a grounder to short, and as fireworks erupted overhead, Perez slapped hands with catcher Carlos Santana before heading to the dugout.
Alex Avila hit a three-run homer for the Tigers, who slammed shut Cleveland's playoff hopes last season by winning the final 10 games between the AL Central rivals.
Before Perez came on, Vinnie Pestano worked a perfect eighth, striking out Avila to end the inning. Pestano set a team record for a reliever by striking out at least one batter in 22 consecutive outings since Sept. 25.
Jimenez didn't take any chances with Detroit's big bats.
He walked Cabrera three times, struck out Fielder once and got the Tigers' high-priced slugger, whose $23 million salary this season is a third of Cleveland's entire payroll, to bounce into a double play in the fifth.
It was another positive performance for the inconsistent Jimenez, who allowed three runs and three hits and managed to work around his lack of control. He walked six, but was only burned by one of them as a one-out pass set up Avila's homer in the second.
Porcello gave up four earned runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings. The loss was only the right-hander's second in seven career decisions against Cleveland.
Cleveland snapped a 3-3 tie with two runs in the sixth off Porcello on Casey Kotchman's RBI single and Jose Lopez's RBI double.
Although the Tigers were the ones who put the Indians away last season, neither manager would put much importance on the first matchup of 2012, but Perez said it would be a gauge for Cleveland.
"It's a good measuring stick," he Perez said. "They have the most talent in the division, they won it last year. They won 10 in a row from us at the end and that was probably the difference in why we didn't make the playoffs."
Perez wanted to shift the spotlight back to the Indians after making some inflammatory comments about being booed at home and the Indians' poor attendance.
Before the game, the opinionated right-hander made it clear he does not want to be traded and said he has received some positive feedback from fans who agreed the Indians should be getting more support -- and media attention.
"I don't want out," Perez said. "I want to win. I like it here. I'm comfortable here. I'm not out. I'm in. I'm here."
Shin-Soo Choo, batting .394 with a .487 on-base percentage in eight games since moving into the leadoff spot on May 14, opened the fifth with a double and moved to third on Porcello's wild pitch. Hafner lifted a fly ball to medium center to drive in Choo..
NOTES: The Tigers tied a club record by going 110 games since their last shutout. They were last blanked on July 16 last season by the Chicago White Sox. ... Indians 3B Jack Hannahan missed his eighth seventh straight game with a sore back. Acta said Hannahan went through all pregame activities and the team will likely make a decision Wednesday if he can return to action. ... Tigers CF Austin Jackson was a late scratch and missed his fifth game in a row with a strained left hamstring. Santiago moved from No. 9 to Jackson's leadoff spot and Kelly started in center.
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