TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) — Mike Napoli drove in four runs and the Cleveland Indians stretched their lead over Detroit in the AL Central to seven games by beating the second-place Tigers 11-4 on Friday night.
Napoli hit a gift two-run double in the first inning off rookie Michael Fulmer (10-7) and added a towering two-run homer in the fifth that bounced out of Progressive Field as the Indians lowered the magic number for clinching their first division title since 2007 to nine.
Corey Kluber (17-9) worked seven innings, keeping the top of Detroit’s lineup in check and setting the tone for the Indians’ biggest series this season. The right-hander is 8-1 in 12 starts since the All-Star break and remains the one pitcher in the rotation Cleveland can count on.
Carlos Santana added two RBIs for the Indians, now 12-1 against the Tigers.
Justin Upton hit a pair of homers and drove in all four runs for Detroit, which missed another chance to gain ground and is running out of season.
This was the first of seven games between the rivals over the next two weeks and the Indians, who have led the division since June 4, made sure the Tigers didn’t get any closer or gain any momentum.
Napoli’s 34th homer gave the Indians a 6-1 lead.
Jason Kipnis was on second with one out when Napoli, who proudly says he swings as hard as he can, whenever he can, sent a 2-2 pitch soaring over the wall in left. None of the fans was able to catch it on the fly and it ricocheted off the sidewalk, over the fence and into the plaza behind the ballpark.
Upton’s three-run homer in the sixth pulled the Tigers within 6-4, but the Indians tacked on a run in their half before Kluber retired Miguel Cabrera with a runner at third to end the seventh. Detroit’s first three hitters — Ian Kinsler, Cameron Maybin and Cabrera — went 0 for 11 with a walk off Kluber.
The Indians took a 2-0 lead in the first on a strange play.
With runners at second and third, Napoli hit a fly ball with one out to deep left that Upton never tracked off the bat. As Upton helplessly looked skyward and drifted aimlessly toward the line, Napoli’s shot, which should have been a sacrifice fly, bounced on the warning track and over the 19-foot-high wall for a two-run, ground-rule double.
Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmerman, who has been battling a strained neck most of the season, will throw a side session Saturday. He has started twice since June 30, allowing six runs in one inning against Baltimore on Sept. 10.
Indians: C Yan Gomes broke a bone in his right wrist and will likely miss the remainder of this season. Gomes was scheduled to be activated Friday after missing six weeks with a separated shoulder. But in his final rehab game Wednesday, Gomes was hit by a pitch, a cruel twist to his tough season. … RF Lonnie Chisenhall is day-to-day with an abdominal issue. He was scratched from the lineup on Thursday.
Tigers: RHP Justin Verlander is 0-3 with a 9.18 ERA in three starts against Cleveland this season. He’s 9-14 with a 5.61 ERA in 25 career starts at Progressive Field.
Indians: RHP Carlos Carrasco looks to bounce back after going just 3 2/3 innings in his previous start at Chicago on Sunday. He’s 2-0 with a 0.51 ERA in three starts against the Tigers in 2016.
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