CLEVELAND (AP) — Once again, the Guardians came up a little short.
One run short. Again.
If they don’t return to the playoffs, losses like Saturday night’s will be the kind that haunts Cleveland in the offseason.
Kerry Carpenter hit a three-run homer off rookie Tanner Bibee, Javier Báez had a solo shot and Detroit’s bullpen turned away several Cleveland scoring chances in the final innings as the Tigers held on for a 4-3 win.
“You play a lot of these one-run games and it seems like there’s one play somewhere in there that changes the game,” said first baseman Kole Calhoun, who hit his first homer since joining Cleveland.
“You can narrow it down when it comes to these one-run games. Tough one to swallow.”
Carpenter connected in the first inning off Bibee (9-3), who had won his previous seven decisions and was unbeaten since June 13. Báez homered in the seventh off Nick Sandlin to put the Tigers ahead 4-2.
“Manny style,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said of Báez’s blast, his first homer since July 19. “We honored Manny Ramirez tonight and he looked just like him with the (opposite-field) homer.”
Matt Manning (5-4) held the Guardians to one run and five hits in six innings. The right-hander came in 0-2 with a 17.61 ERA in two previous outings at Progressive Field.
Cleveland had its chances.
Detroit’s Alex Lange worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh, Andrew Vasquez escaped a two-on mess in the eighth, and Jason Foley retired the Guardians’ 1-2-3 hitters in the ninth for his seventh save.
“A lot of big moments and we came out on top in a lot of those moments,” Tigers catcher Jake Rogers said. “The bullpen came through.”
The Tigers improved to 6-3 against the Guardians, who are trying to catch first-place Minnesota in the AL Central. Detroit hasn’t won a season series over Cleveland since 2015.
Bo Naylor had three hits for the Guardians, who closed to 4-3 in the seventh on Steven Kwan’s RBI single.
Cleveland loaded the bases with two outs before Lange got Oscar Gonzalez to ground out to third, ending the threat.
The Guardians put the tying run to third with one in the eighth, but Vasquez got Naylor to pop up and struck out Myles Straw. In the ninth, Foley struck out Kwan, retired José Ramírez on a screaming liner to right and fanned Calhoun to end it.
“Stings a little because we expect to get it done,” Calhoun said.
Cleveland also blew a great opportunity in the fifth, when the Tigers committed two errors on one play.
With a runner at first, Naylor doubled to deep center. Gabriel Arias was initially held at third before hustling home when Tigers center fielder Riley Greene’s relay throw was off line to shortstop Báez.
Báez’s throw to the plate wasn’t perfect, but Rogers didn’t handle it cleanly as Arias scored and Naylor took third. However, Manning buckled down and stranded the tying run by getting three straight infield groundouts, the last a hard shot to second by Ramírez.
“Just keeping that run from scoring was all I was thinking about,” Manning said.
Bibee came in unbeaten in his previous nine starts since June 24, but the right-hander was in early trouble against the Tigers.
He gave up a single and labored through the first, when he couldn’t put away Spencer Torkelson, who drew a two-out walk following a 10-pitch at-bat.
Carpenter followed with his 17th homer, a shot that barely cleared the wall in right to make it 3-0.
MANNY OF THE PEOPLE
Wildly popular during his playing days, Manny Ramírez was inducted into the club’s Hall of Fame before the game.
Ramírez spent eight seasons with Cleveland before signing in Boston. Ramírez strolled in from the bullpen after being introduced and thanked Guardians fans for their unwavering support.
“With all my mistakes, you guys have stayed with me,” he told the crowd.
Ramírez was twice suspended for PEDs, and those infractions have kept him from being voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
A Tigers fan as a kid, Eric Haase’s dream of playing for his favorite team is over.
Detroit designated the slumping veteran catcher for assignment. Haase was doing fine defensively, but his .129 average against left-handers forced the club to make a move that came with some emotion.
Free agent Carson Kelly, recently released by Arizona, was signed.
“It is a reality our team has to understand: Changes come when changes are needed,” Hinch said. “You can still be upset, frustrated and sad for your teammate. But these things happen when the organization feels they’re necessary.”
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (shoulder inflammation) is scheduled to throw 80 pitches in a start on Sunday for Triple-A Columbus at Syracuse. This will be Quantrill’s third rehab start, and could lead to him being activated soon.
Guardians rookie LHP Logan Allen (6-5, 3.33 ERA) starts the series finale against Tigers LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (8-6. 3.13 ERA).