CLEVELAND — Other than the first inning, Max Scherzer was flawless.
At the perfect time for the Tigers.
Scherzer retired 22 straight after giving up two hits and a run in the first and Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer, leading Detroit to a 5-1 win over Cleveland on Tuesday night to stop the Indians' winning streak at five and trim their lead in the AL Central.
Scherzer (6-0) gave up two singles — one a broken-bat bloop — in the first before shutting down baseball's hottest team for eight innings. The right-hander walked just one and struck out seven, including the final four he faced.
Scherzer's 118th and last pitch was his fastest — a 98 mph heater to fan Drew Stubbs.
"He knew that was going to be it for him," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He really cranked it up. That was pretty impressive. He did a terrific job."
Cabrera's laser shot in the sixth inning, his 12th homer and fourth in two games, off Corey Kluber (3-3) helped the Tigers win for just the second time in six games. The defending AL champions also moved within 1 1-2 games of the first-place Indians, who have won 18 of 23 since April 28.
"That was a dominant performance," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "His last pitch was 98, and when you're up around 115 or 120 pitches and you have that left in the tank, that's saying a lot."
Scherzer gave the Tigers a much-needed outing and set the stage for Cy Young winner Justin Verlander, who will pitch Tuesday night.
Andy Dirks hit a solo homer in the sixth and had two RBIs as Detroit won the first game of the short, showdown series.
In the first, Scherzer was touched for a leadoff single by Michael Bourn, a one-out base hit by Asdrubal Cabrera and a hard-hit sacrifice fly by Michael Brantley before he made the Indians look silly. He mixed his pitches, had Cleveland's hitters off-balance and grew stronger as the game went on.
"He had his good stuff all the way around from his fastball, a good slider and a good changeup," Bourn said. "He came out and dominated."
Scherzer, who won five straight starts before getting a no-decision in his last outing against Houston, didn't get much support but was so good he didn't need it.
He struck out seven of the last 12 batters, and felt better on his last pitch than the previous 117.
"I definitely had the adrenaline going in that situation," he said. "You know that's your last inning and you throw the ball as hard as you can."
Before the game, Francona said there's a danger in trying to pitch around Cabrera because Detroit has plenty of other dangerous hitters in its lineup.
"I guarantee you if you pitch around him all day, they're going to score," he said.
Kluber went right at Mr. Triple Crown his first two times up, and retired Cabrera on a grounder to third in the first and routine fly to center in the fourth.
But in the sixth, Cabrera, who homered three times in a loss at Texas on Sunday, did what he does best.
Dirks opened the inning with his fifth homer, a drive into the right-field seats to tie it 1-all. Torii Hunter followed with a double that one-hopped the wall in right, bringing up Cabrera with first base open.
Francona elected to have Kluber to pitch to Cabrera, who rocketed an 0-1 fastball over the center-field fence to give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
Francona said he didn't walk Cabrera because Prince Fielder, Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta could have made things worse.
"Nobody out, you're asking for trouble," Francona said. "If you walk him and you have first and second with nobody out, you're putting your pitcher in a tough spot."
Leyland marveled at Cabrera's ability to hit Kluber's pitch.
"The pitch was down and away and he got extended on it," Leyland said. "There aren't many guys who can do that. That's why he is who he is."
Detroit added two runs in the ninth on RBI singles by Dirks and Fielder.
The Indians were missing first baseman Nick Swisher, who was placed on the paternity list before the game after his wife, JoAnna, gave birth to the couple's first child.
With Swisher out, Brantley batted cleanup for the first time this season and his sacrifice fly in the first gave the Indians a 1-0 lead.
Bourn led off with a grounder through the box off Scherzer and raced to third on Asdrubal Cabrera's broken-bat single with one out. Brantley followed with a liner to right-center that was run down by Hunter but was deep enough to score the speedy Bourn easily.
That was it for the Indians, though, as Scherzer shut them down.
NOTES: Cabrera's 195th homer with the Tigers moved him into a tie with Kirk Gibson for 10th place on the franchise list. ... Indians closer Chris Perez has deactivated his Twitter account following two bad outings and harsh comments from some followers. ... A moment of silence was observed before the game for victims of the Oklahoma tornado. ... Leyland said OF Austin Jackson (pulled left hamstring) will likely go on a minor league rehab assignment before he comes off the disabled list. Jackson has been on the DL since May 12. ... RHP Octavio Dotel (sore elbow) is playing catch in Florida. He's been on the DL since April 20. ... The crowd cheered when it was announced the Cavaliers had won the NBA draft lottery for the second time in three years.