The left-hander, winner of eight of his last nine starts, improved to 5-0 with a 1.86 ERA in August. He remained on track to give Cleveland its second AL Cy Young winner in a row, following CC Sabathia earning the honor a year ago.
Lee is one win from becoming the Indians' first 20-game winner since Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry in 1974. His 19 wins are a career high, surpassing his 18 victories in 2005.
Lee is only the eighth pitcher since 1920 to win 19 of his first 21 decisions in a season.
Year Pitcher, Team W L 2001 Roger Clemens, Yankees 20 1 2008 Cliff Lee, Indians 19 2 1995 Greg Maddux, Braves 19 2 1978 Ron Guidry, Yankees 19 2 1966 Gaylord Perry, Giants 19 2 1961 Whitey Ford, Yankees 19 2 1951 Preacher Roe, Dodgers 19 2 1931 Lefty Grove, Athletics 19 2As he has all season, Lee refused to look ahead to possible individual honors.
"I just want to get as deep in the game as I can," he said. "I want to give the team a chance to win and put up as many zeros as I can."
That's a variation of the theme he has espoused after every outing this year -- which in itself is an example of how the left-hander is trying to maintain an even keel and simply focus on one game at a time. Players say it all the time; few actually attain such a level of success.
Francisco went 3-for-4 with four RBI. He hit two-run homers in the fourth and seventh innings, giving him 14 homers and 50 RBI for the season. He beat out an infield single in the ninth to hike his average to .288.
The Indians were held hitless by Chris Lambert in his big-league debut until Carroll (.271) opened the third inning by hitting his first homer of the season. He hit a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left-center and Shoppach (.257) followed by belting a 2-1 pitch over the center-field wall.
Asdrubal Cabrera (.219) then was hit by a pitch and after Grady Sizemore (.269) fouled out, stole second base. Franklin Gutierrez (.238) then was safe at first and Cabrera scored on an error by Tigers third baseman Ryan Raburn to make it 3-0.
With two outs, Jhonny Peralta (.279) singled home Gutierrez and went to second on an error by left-fielder Marcus Thames. David Dellucci (.247) doubled home Peralta, Ryan Garko (.255) walked and Carroll added an RBI single for a 6-0 lead.
Lee gave up walk and single with two outs in the eighth. Rafael Betancourt (5.30 ERA) got Gary Sheffield to foul out to end the threat.
Edward Mujica (7.48 ERA) yielded a two-run homer to Edgar Renteria in the ninth.