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Not their night: Indians fall 6-4



Published: Thu, July 5, 2007 @ 12:00 a.m.

Detroit caught the breaks, ending the Tribe’s six-game winning streak.

DETROIT (AP) — Kenny Rogers wasn’t at his best Wednesday.

Thanks to Detroit’s defense and a friendly bounce, it didn’t matter.

Rogers allowed two runs — one earned — in 5 1/3 innings as the Tigers snapped Cleveland’s six-game winning streak with a 6-4 victory.

The 42-year-old left-hander has won all three starts after missing the first 11 weeks of the season following shoulder injury, but he knew he didn’t deserve the credit for this one.

“I wasn’t nearly as sharp as I wanted to be tonight,” he said. “Every time I made a mistake, something good happened behind me. It was incredible — guys were diving all over the place.”

Rogers (3-0) gave up seven hits, walked three and struck out three. He has a 1.04 ERA since coming off the disabled list June 22.

“That wasn’t vintage Kenny out there, but it was good enough,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Getting some help

Rogers and four relievers got plenty of help from their defense with Brandon Inge, Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames all making run-saving plays.

“We made plays, and that’s what you have to do,” Leyland said. “You have to do enough little things to win games.”

Todd Jones pitched a perfect ninth for his 21st save in 25 chances and his 200th as a Tiger.

Jake Westbrook (1-4) gave up five runs and 10 hits in six innings.

“I felt good out there — I made decent pitches,” he said. “I’m just a little frustrated at all the two-out hits I gave up. I couldn’t make the big pitches when I needed them, and that cost us the game.”

Detroit took a 2-0 lead on RBI singles by Guillen in the first and Inge in the second. Casey Blake made it 2-1 with a run-scoring groundout in the third, but the Indians saw a potential rally snuffed out in the next inning by great defense and bad luck.

Travis Hafner walked with one out and Jason Michaels followed with a slicing liner into the left-field corner, but Thames made a diving catch.

Ryan Garko then hit a ball to deep right-center that would have easily scored Hafner, but the ball bounced over the 11 1/2-foot fence for a fluke ground-rule double. Hafner was stopped at third, and after a fist-pump of relief, Rogers retired Franklin Gutierrez to end the inning.

“That was huge — that changed the whole momentum,” Rogers said. “It saved me at least one run and it gave me a chance to eliminate any damage. When that happened, I figured it was our turn to get some breaks.”

Taking advantage

Detroit took advantage, scoring three runs in the fourth to go up 5-1.

With one out and runners on the corners, Inge bunted the ball to the right side for a perfectly executed squeeze.

Granderson followed with an RBI double to make it 4-1, and he scored when Gutierrez couldn’t come up with a diving catch on Placido Polanco’s liner down the right-field line.

Cleveland got a run back in the fifth on Victor Martinez’s RBI double, but Guillen stopped another run with a backhanded stop of Hafner’s smash up the middle. The Indians got into the defensive act in the bottom of the inning when Jhonny Peralta dived to turn Ivan Rodriguez’s hard grounder into a 6-4-3 double play.

Hafner made it 5-4 with a two-run homer off Macay McBride in the seventh, but Guillen and Rodriguez hit back-to-back triples to restore the two-run lead in the bottom of the inning.

The Indians put two runners on in the eighth, but Inge bailed out Zach Miner with a barehanded pickup-and-throw of Peralta’s slow roller past the mound.

“He has to be the best defensive third baseman in the league, because he makes those plays all the time,” Miner said. “I thought that was definitely a hit, especially since Peralta runs pretty well, but he just swooped in, bare-handed it and threw him out.”

By that point, Cleveland manager Eric Wedge had already figured out the fates were against him.

“It just wasn’t our night,” he said. “We couldn’t catch a break, they played superior defense, and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we got.”

Notes

The game drew a sold-out crowd of 40,782 on a 70-degree evening. ... Westbrook started for Cleveland on July 4 last year with drastically different results, beating the Yankees 19-1 in Cleveland’s biggest home win since 1950. ... Today’s series finale will match two candidates to be the AL’s starting pitcher in next week’s All-Star game — C.C. Sabathia of the Indians and Justin Verlander of the Tigers.


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