Kosuke Fukudome’s walk-off hit (by pitch). (Amy Sancetta/AP)

Tuesday night in a critical AL Central matchup with Detroit, Fukudome validated the Indians’ trade for him with a 14th inning, bases-loaded walk-off...hit by pitch.

Well, that’s one way to inch closer to the first-place Tigers (61-54).

With one out in a 2-2 ballgame, Detroit reliever David Pauley intentionally walked Carlos Santana to pitch to Fukudome with the bases loaded. The choice made sense — loading the bases set up a double-play opportunity and Fukudome had struck out in four consecutive at-bats.

But it was Fukudome’s left arm that did the damage after Pauley drilled him to bring home the winning run.

The Indians (57-56) have now won 13 home games in their last at-bat this season and, more importantly, Tuesday’s win pulled them to within three games of the Tigers to begin a critical three-game series.

The game lasted 4 hours, 43 minutes and ended at nearly 2 a.m.