CLEVELAND -- Michael Fulmer won't pitch in the Midsummer Classic, but he'll settle for winning a duel opposite fellow American League All-Star Corey Kluber. Fulmer's six-plus quality innings and Justin Wilson's five-out save helped the Tigers close out the first half by avoiding a series sweep to the Indians with
CLEVELAND -- Michael Fulmer won't pitch in the Midsummer Classic, but he'll settle for winning a duel opposite fellow American League All-Star Corey Kluber. Fulmer's six-plus quality innings and Justin Wilson's five-out save helped the Tigers close out the first half by avoiding a series sweep to the Indians with a 5-3 win Sunday night at Progressive Field.
Cleveland heads into the All-Star break at 47-40, up 2 1/2 games on the Twins in the AL Central. Detroit moved within eight games but still has work to do at 39-48 as general manager Al Avila listens to offers ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We salvaged a win and go into the break not feeling sour about the way the game's gone," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "Hopefully the guys can have a nice four days off, reset and come back ready to go."
Kluber and Fulmer (9-6) both allowed a run on three hits over their first five innings. But while Fulmer did it in just 58 pitches, Kluber threw 101, thanks in part to eight strikeouts. Detroit scored three runs in the sixth off the Tribe bullpen, two on Alex Presley's go-ahead double, to move ahead for good.
"Yeah, [Kluber labored] and then he had to work so hard there in the top of the fifth," Indians bench coach and acting manager Brad Mills said. "It was 30 pitches, he had traffic all over the place. I haven't talked to him, but he just didn't get settled in."
Fulmer entered the seventh with a 5-1 lead and a pitch count of only 71, but four straight hits, including Jose Ramirez's two-run homer, knocked Fulmer out of the game before an out was recorded. Shane Greene retired three straight to escape the jam, then turned the ball over to Wilson, who stranded the bases loaded.
• Ramirez rides hot streak into All-Star Game
"I knew my pitch count was down, and I just tried to attack the zone," Fulmer said. "Like I said, I think I fell in love with the two-seam there. Maybe I could have thrown a few different pitches. But ultimately, at the end of the day, Greeney came in and got my back, and we ultimately got a win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tigers capitalize post-Kluber: The Tigers had never worked 100 or more pitches out of Kluber before the sixth inning. By doing so Sunday, the Tigers forced the long end of the Indians' bullpen into action in the sixth, and they converted. Nicholas Goody threw just four of 13 pitches for strikes, walking two and allowing a single to load the bases. Presley had a late swing on a Dan Otero changeup but lined it down the left-field line for a two-run double ahead of Iglesias' high chopper to first for an RBI infield single. An inning later, Nicholas Castellanos fouled off six pitches from Otero before delivering a two-out RBI single.
"They put together some good at-bats," Kluber said. "I didn't have, I'd say, my best command tonight. But they put together a lot of tough at-bats, and they did a good job of extending some counts and had a lot of baserunners in a couple innings. I was able to keep it to just one run, but they were able to get the pitch count up pretty good."
Give me five: Wilson hadn't had a save of more than three outs since becoming Tigers closer, and he hadn't tried since May 16. But the lefty hadn't worked since Thursday and will have four days off for the All-Star break, so Ausmus called on him with one out in the eighth after back-to-back walks from Greene. Wilson retired Ramirez on a fielder's choice then walked Brandon Guyer to load the bases but stranded them with a Carlos Santana groundout. He worked around a Bradley Zimmer single in the ninth for a five-out save.
"We won. That's all that matters," Wilson said. "I don't care how long I'm out there, just as long as we win the game."
• Wilson steps up with first career 5-out save
"Absolutely not. I might need to tonight. I'll be exhausted." -- Fulmer, who left for the All-Star Game in Miami after the game, on whether he sleeps on planes
"He did a good job. We just couldn't put anything together really against him until later. … He was mixing some of those changeups to some of our left-hand hitters. Other than that, he's just got good stuff." -- Mills, on Fulmer's outing
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Tigers won a game without hitting a home run for just the second time all season. They're 2-24 in games in which they do not homer.
CHISENHALL EXITS WITH INJURY
Lonnie Chisenhall was removed in the top of the fourth inning with a right calf injury sustained in the first inning while backing up a play at first base.
• Chisenhall exits with right calf injury
Tigers: The second half opens at home for the Tigers, who welcome the Blue Jays for a three-game series beginning Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Comerica Park. Justin Verlander (5-6, 4.73 ERA) gets the start on five days' rest after a hard-luck loss to the Indians on Saturday.
Indians: After the All-Star break, the Indians will head to Oakland to open a three-game set with the Athletics at the Oakland Coliseum beginning with Friday's 10:05 p.m. ET tilt. Carlos Carrasco (10-3, 3.44 ERA) will take the mound for the opener. He is coming off a strong seven-inning performance against the Tigers, in which recorded a season-high 11 strikeouts.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.
William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.