CLEVELAND -- Casey Blake made a mistake on the bases and Rafael Betancourt made one on the mound. That was all the Detroit Tigers needed to slow Cleveland's momentum in the AL wild-card race.
Ivan Rodriguez homered to break a tie and Mike Maroth pitched seven strong innings as the Tigers beat the Indians 4-3 Wednesday night.
"That was exciting," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said after Rodriguez hit the first pitch of the eighth inning from Betancourt (2-3) for his 13th homer and a 3-2 lead.
Blake was much less exuberant in a subdued Cleveland clubhouse after making a baserunning blunder. The Indians began play a half-game behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees, but lost for only the third time in 13 games -- completing a 19-8 August.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win up to the last at-bat," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "Raffy left a breaking ball up and in and then Casey got caught in no-man's land. That just wasn't a good play."
Maroth (12-12) went 4-1 in six starts in August. The left-hander allowed only one walk over his last 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs and three hits, striking out six.
Though he is 6-0 with a 2.28 ERA in his last seven starts against Cleveland over two seasons, Maroth did no celebrating.
"My next start is against them, so I'm not saying anything," he said. "I don't know why it works for me against them."
Neither does Victor Martinez, who drove in all three Cleveland runs, giving him 12 RBI in the last 10 games. He has hit .474 (18-for-38) with four homers over that span.
"If I knew, I'd do something about it," he said. "But he's good at changing speeds and throwing strikes. Pitchers like that are always tough."
Craig Dingman worked the eighth. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth, allowing Martinez's RBI double before getting pinch-hitter Ben Broussard to ground out with a man on third for his seventh save.
Blake doubled to open the Cleveland eighth, but was doubled off second on an easy fly ball to left by Grady Sizemore to kill a potential comeback.
"It was a terrible play," said Blake, who sat on second base and hung his head for several seconds. "I wanted to see what kind of throw they would make, but was too aggressive. I didn't realize I was that far off the bag."
After Rodriguez put Detroit ahead, Dmitri Young lined a one-out single for his third hit and was replaced by pinch-runner Nook Logan.
Betancourt struck out Craig Monroe, but left-hander Scott Sauerbeck gave up an RBI double to Carlos Pena to make it 4-2. Pena came to bat hitting .097 (3-for-31) with 17 strikeouts against lefties.
Magglio Ordonez hit a two-out RBI single and Young followed with an RBI double for a 2-0 lead in the first inning off Cliff Lee.
Martinez's two-run single tied it in the bottom half.
"I give up two and Victor gets us back," Lee said. "That was huge. It was like he erased what I did and we were back to 0-0."
Both starters then settled in.
Maroth didn't allow a hit after Aaron Boone's one-out double in the second. He retired 15 in a row, including six on strikeouts, until walking Ronnie Belliard with one out in the seventh.
Lee retired his last 10 after yielding a two-out double to Monroe in the third -- the outfielder's first hit in 13 career at-bats against the left-hander. Lee, 5-0 in his previous eight starts, allowed two runs and three hits over six innings, walking two and striking out five.
The teams will return to Cleveland on Sept. 8 at 4:05 p.m. to play the makeup of Tuesday night's rainout. That's after they play three games in Detroit, Sept. 5-7. ... Indians RHP Matt Miller and LHP Arthur Rhodes each pitched one perfect inning on rehab assignments at Double-A Akron. ... Lee has worked at least five innings in his last 26 starts since going only 3 1/3 in his season debut on April 7. ... The Tigers have 23 homers in their last 13 games. ... Maroth is 5-0 at Jacobs Field. Only Pedro Martinez (6-0) has a better record by an opponent at the 12-year-old ballpark. ... Cleveland called up OF Franklin Gutierrez from Buffalo and he made his major league debut in the ninth as a pinch runner.