Opening the three-game series in Detroit, the Tigers took a leg up on their closest pursuer with the win, extending their lead in the division to 7 1/2 games. Cleveland has lost four in a row and has fallen five games behind Oakland in the race for the final wild card spot.
Third baseman Miguel Cabrera left the game in the second inning with an abdominal injury. His status remains day-to-day.
The Tigers will look to further their advantage when they host the Indians in game two, Saturday at 7:08 pm EDT.
Even though Francisco Liriano didn't get his first start until May 11, his eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball against the St. Louis Cardinals was good enough for his 15th win of the season, tying him for the lead in the National League, as the Pirates downed the Cardinals, 5-0.
Friday's performance showed just how well Liriano has mastered the St. Louis lineup, the victory earning the Pirates a tie with St. Louis in the NL Central, the two teams having identical, 78-56 records.
Garrett Jones accounted for four of the five Pirate runs, doubling in two in the opening inning, socking a solo homer in the fourth and driving in the final Pittsburgh run with a single in the fifth, going 3-for-4 with four RBI.
The two teams will undo the knot atop the division when they meet for game two of the three-game series at 7:05 pm Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
Today's Trivia: True or False: Johnny Bench never led the National League in home runs for a single season. (answer tomorrow)
Yesterday's Answer: Mike Schmidt led the National League in home runs eight times from 1974 through 1986.