Pavano (1-3) had a 9.50 ERA to start the game, but held the Tigers to two runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings.
Those two scores came during Detroit's five-run eighth, which was capped off by Miguel Cabrera's two-out, three-run homer.
Rafael Betancourt came on to relieve Jensen Lewis after Cabrera's blast and quickly got Carlos Guillen to ground out to end the inning. Kerry Wood worked a perfect ninth inning for his fifth save.
Jhonny Peralta went 2-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBI for Cleveland and David Dellucci, playing in his first game of the season, had four hits. Dellucci was activated from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, having recovered from a strained left calf.
The loss was suffered by Armando Galarraga (3-1), who allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings.
Detroit lost its third straight.