By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT - Drew Smyly acknowledged thinking about the possibility of throwing a no-hitter.
The Tigers’ Andrew Romine beats the throw to Cleveland Indians third baseman Mike Aviles and successfully steals third during the fifth inning Sunday in Detroit. (AP photo)
When Yan Gomes broke up his bid with a two-out double in the fifth, Smyly shifted his focus to simply winning the game to help his team end a skid.
Smyly allowed four hits and matched his career high by pitching seven innings, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 5-1 Sunday to avoid avoided a four-game sweep.
Smyly (6-8) noticed after two innings that he had held the Indians hitless.
"If any pitcher says they don't notice it, they're lying," he said. "You think about it."
The left-hander ended up allowing only one run - on Gomes' seventh-inning homer - walked two and struck out six.
"They didn't see a lot of the same pitches back to back," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.
Joba Chamberlain walked two in the eighth, and Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth in a non-save situation.
The AL Central-leading Tigers (54-41) stopped a four-game losing streak and increased their lead over Cleveland to 5 games.
"It's huge to come and get the win to end that little streak," Smyly said. "But that's baseball, you're going to go on a lot of hot streaks, you're going to go on some cold streaks and you just try to weather the storm."
Josh Tomlin (5-7) allowed four runs, six hits and a walk over 4 1-3 innings.
Cleveland (50-48) had reached a season-high three games over .500 by winning four in a row.
"It was a great series for us," Tomlin said. "Took three games from them, but I came up short."
Detroit gave Smyly some support offensively, scoring two runs in the first and two more on Torii Hunter's drive deep into the left-field seats in fourth. Austin Jackson led off the first with a double and scored on Ian Kinsler's single. Kinsler came home on Victor Martinez's sacrifice fly.
Indians relievers C.C. Lee and Kyle Crockett stranded a total of five runners by combining to strike out the last two batters in the fifth and the sixth.
Cleveland manager Terry Francona was pleased with his pitcher's performances against Miguel Cabrera, who went 0 for 4, and Victor Martinez, who was 3 of 15 over the four-game series.
"Those guys in the middle are pretty special," Francona said. "And, I thought we did a good job against them."
Nick Castellanos hit an RBI double for a four-run lead in the eighth inning, taking some pressure off Nathan, who was greeted by the fans with a mix of cheers and boos after giving up a game-losing hit in Saturday night's loss.
"I don't think it hurt that he got back out there," Ausmus said.
NOTES: Martinez played first base, giving Cabrera a day of relative rest as a designated hitter, and may play there while Cabrera moves to third for a game or two against the Diamondbacks. ... Detroit and Cleveland optioned the 26th players they had for Saturday's doubleheader, sending RHP Drew VerHagen to Triple-A Toledo and RHP Zach McAllister to Triple-A Columbus. ... Tigers owner Mike Ilitch attended the game on his 85th birthday.