CLEVELAND (AP) – A rookie got the best of Justin Verlander again.
Cody Anderson out-pitched Verlander for the second time in a week, and the Cleveland Indians reached .500 for the first time since early April with a 7-2 win over the Detroit Tigers in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday.
Anderson (4-3) allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings. Francisco Lindor, another rookie who has helped Cleveland get back in the AL wild-card race, broke a 1-all tie with a two-run single in the fifth.
Verlander (3-8) gave up four runs in six innings and lost to Anderson for the second straight Sunday.
Anderson said it was a rush facing the former AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner.
“You definitely see him out there on the mound and watched him in college and growing up,” said Anderson, who pitched seven shutout innings against the Tigers a week ago. “It’s exciting. Anytime you’re in a tight game and Verlander’s on the mound, you don’t want to give up any runs.”
The Indians (70-70) hadn’t been .500 since they were 2-2 on April 10. Chris Johnson was 3 for 4 and drove in two runs for Cleveland, which has won 12 of 16.
Detroit, the four-time defending AL Central champion, has dropped 16 of 21.
The teams were rained out Friday, forcing the doubleheader, and again Saturday, a game that hasn’t been rescheduled. The Game 1 starters were scheduled to pitch Friday and then on Saturday.
“It’s kind of tough to be locked in for three straight days, but extra days are never bad,” Anderson said.
Verlander retired the first eight hitters before Jose Ramirez doubled with two out in the third. He set down the next four batters but ran into fifth-inning trouble with the Tigers leading 1-0.
Lonnie Chisenhall drew a leadoff walk and took third on Yan Gomes’ double. Abraham Almonte walked to load the bases before Johnson slapped a single through the right side, tying the game.
Verlander retired the next two hitters on infield popups before Lindor bounced a 1-2 pitch into center for a 3-1 lead. Verlander threw 34 pitches in the inning.
Lindor’s two-run triple off Verlander in the seventh inning of last week’s game was the key hit in Cleveland’s 4-0 win.
“I’ve played with Lindor since 2011,” Anderson said. “We signed together and all the way up through (the minors) together. I can’t say enough about him. He’s fun to play with.”
Johnson’s bloop single added another run in the sixth, and a frustrated Verlander tossed his glove against the dugout wall following the inning.
“I actually thought JV threw pretty well,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “He was victimized by a couple of soft hits and balls that got placed well. He also was victimized by some bad luck.”
Ian Kinsler’s RBI single in the first put Detroit ahead. Nick Castellanos’ sacrifice fly in the sixth cut the lead to 3-2. The Tigers loaded the bases, but Jeff Manship struck out Anthony Gose to end the inning.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)