- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CLEVELAND (AP) - There isn’t much the Indians have done consistently all season.

However, one thing remains fairly steady: They can’t beat Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

Trevor Bauer didn’t pitch past the fourth inning and Cleveland couldn’t generate enough offense to match the Tigers, who beat the Indians 8-5 on Monday night and improved to 34-14 in the past three seasons against their AL Central rivals.

“For whatever reason, we seem to bring out the best in them,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.

Yoenis Cespedes homered off Bauer (6-4) in the third inning and drove in three runs, Cabrera reached base four times and the Tigers continued their dominance over the Indians, who are 2-8 against Detroit this season and just 5-19 at Progressive Field against the reigning division champions since 2013.

Cabrera walked twice, once with the bases loaded, singled twice and remained a mystery to Cleveland pitchers. He’s batting .649 (24 of 37) with five homers, 16 RBIs and nine walks against the Indians this year.

Before the game, Francona was asked if Cabrera has spooked Cleveland’s entire pitching staff.

“He spooks me. He certainly kind of had his way with us, and I hope that changes. I’ve tried everything. When he comes to the plate, I’ve done this to him,” Francona said, wiggling his fingers as if trying to put a hex on Cabrera. “But, that doesn’t work. We could shift him and put (center fielder Michael Bourn) Bourny out behind the shrubs.

“It’s amazing sometimes, because we’ll move our infielders around and sometimes I think he actually steps back, sees where they are and hits it the other way. It’s uncanny.”

The Indians did work around Cabrera in the fourth, walking him to force in a run but then Victor Martinez hit a two-run single to put the Tigers up 6-3. Cespedes followed with a sac fly to make it 7-3.

Jason Kipnis had two RBIs, and David Murphy and Roberto Perez homered for the Indians, who have dropped nine of their past 14 games and can’t seem to make any move in the standings.

Cleveland is a league-worst 14-22 at home.

Bauer managed to avoid major trouble in the first two innings, but he threw 54 pitches and couldn’t command his fastball. That’s a bad combination against a lineup like Detroit’s. Bauer wasn’t pleased with his outing, but he bemoaned some balls that found green grass in the outfield.

“At some point balls that are bloops are going to fall and they all just seemed to fall tonight,” he said. “I think of the nine hits off me, two were hit hard. Makes it tough against a lineup like that when the weak-contact stuff falls and you’ve got to keep trying to pitch around having guys all over the bases.”

After scoring three total runs in their three previous games, the inconsistent Indians scored three in the third to tie it at 3 on Kipnis’ two-run double and Michael Brantley’s RBI single.

Kipnis extended his hitting streak to a career-high 17 games. He has hit safely in 26 straight at home, the second-longest streak at Progressive Field behind Texas’ Elvis Andrus, who had a 27-gamer from Aug. 11, 2009 to May 26, 2015.

MORE KIPNIS

Kipnis is batting .490 (49 for 100) with 15 doubles, three homers, 14 RBIs and 24 runs during the 26-game streak.

MURPHY’S LAW

Murphy’s pinch-hit homer in the eighth was his third this season, matching a club record held by six others. The last to do it was Jason Giambi in 2013.

BLUE MONDAY

The Indians fell to 0-6 on Mondays and are 1-12 in series openers at home.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Indians: C Yan Gomes sat for the third time in four games with a stiff neck. Francona said Gomes was “feeling a lot better” when he got to the ballpark, but the team wanted to play it safe. Gomes is expected to play in the series.

UP NEXT

Tigers: LHP David Price tossed a seven-hitter in a 4-0 victory over the Indians on June 12. The four-time AL All-Star is 8-1 with a 2.11 ERA in 11 career starts against Cleveland, striking out 74 in 72 2-3 innings.

Indians: RHP Danny Salazar tries to remain unbeaten this season at Progressive Field, where he is 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA in five starts. He took a no-decision in his previous outing against the Cubs last Thursday.


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