CLEVELAND - A late, five-run deficit proved too much for the Cleveland Indians to overcome.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit a three-run homer and Carlos Santana added a solo shot in the eighth inning Friday night, but the Detroit Tigers held on for a 6-4 victory.
The Tigers led 5-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth before the Indians scored four times off reliever Ian Krol on the two homers into the bleachers in left field.
Joba Chamberlain entered with two outs and struck out Nick Swisher to end the inning. Joe Nathan tossed a scoreless ninth to preserve the win for Detroit.
"That's the character of our team that you saw again tonight," Indians pitcher Corey Kluber said. "We've done it lots of times, coming back late for big wins, so we never lose faith. Our guys never quit, but unfortunately, we couldn't make it all the way back and get this one."
Kluber (6-5) went seven strong innings and struck out six, but was victimized for a two-run homer by Victor Martinez in the fourth. The right-hander is 0-2 with a 4.18 ERA in four June starts after going 4-0 with 60 strikeouts in 43 innings in May.
"Corey went seven innings, gave up two runs, made the pitches he needed to, and got deep in the game," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "The only mistake he made was leaving a pitch over the plate that Victor hit out. I'd say that's a pretty good job."
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus also was impressed with Kluber.
"He's tough. He's got a good, hard fastball, a good breaking ball, and a cutter," he said. "He's one of the better pitchers in the division, for sure."
Kluber exited with the Indians trailing 2-0, but John Axford promptly allowed a three-run homer to J.D. Martinez in the top of the eighth to put Detroit up five.
"The way I pitched was certainly frustrating on its own, but when you see the guys immediately mount a comeback, it makes it worse," said Axford, who was removed as the team's closer on May 10. "I felt good. I just couldn't locate my slider or cutter. It's definitely a bad feeling."
The attendance of 33,545 was the second-largest of the season at Progressive Field, trailing the 41,274 at Cleveland's home opener on April 4. The Indians own the lowest average attendance in the majors at 15,889, but are expecting large crowds for all three games in the series.
The Indians, who swept a three-game series from the Tigers last month, have lost two of three after winning 10 straight at home.
Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello (9-4) earned the win by scattering six hits over six shutout innings. He is 9-3 in his career against Cleveland, including 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA over the last two seasons.
"Porcello has got really good late movement and pitched very well against us again," Francona said.
The Indians' comeback began when Mike Aviles and Michael Bourn had singles to start the eighth, then scored on Cabrera's eighth homer of the season. Santana went deep two batters later for his 10th homer of the year.
Detroit tacked on an insurance run in the ninth against Marc Rzepczynski.
Indians left fielder Michael Brantley singled as a pinch hitter with two outs in the ninth. It was his first appearance since suffering a concussion Monday when he was inadvertently kneed in the head by Angels shortstop John McDonald while turning a double play.
Bourn followed Brantley to the plate as the potential tying run, but was struck out by Nathan.
NOTES: Detroit first base coach Omar Vizquel will be inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame in a pregame ceremony. "Playing here was the highlight of my career," said Vizquel, who played in Cleveland from 1994-2004. ... Victor Martinez played for the Indians from 2002-2009 and is a .366 career hitter (70 for 191) with eight homers and 44 RBIs in 52 games against his former team. ... The Indians recalled RHP Vinnie Pestano from Triple-A Columbus and optioned RHP Zach McAllister to the Clippers. before the game. Pestano retired the only batter he faced. ... Tigers RHP Justin Verlander (6-7) takes on Indians RHP Trevor Bauer (2-3) in the second game of the three-game series Saturday at 7:15 p.m.