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Published: Monday, 4/14/2003

White Sox trip Tigers

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Carlos Lee of the Chicago White Sox scores by knocking the ball from the grasp of Detroit catcher Brandon Inge. Carlos Lee of the Chicago White Sox scores by knocking the ball from the grasp of Detroit catcher Brandon Inge.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - What young pitcher Gary Knotts experienced yesterday will likely be a lesson that gets repeated over and over this season for the Detroit Tigers.

Knotts was good - but not quite good enough - as the Tigers fell to the Chicago White Sox 3-2 before an announced crowd of 12,808 at Comerica Park.

The 26-year-old Knotts, who barely made the big-league club after struggling in spring training, worked out of a two-on, no-out jam in the second, stranded two runners in the third, and allowed a leadoff triple in the sixth but kept the runner from scoring.

He allowed only an unearned run in the third, and then gave up two runs in the seventh before working out of the inning by stranding two more runners.

Detroit manager Alan Trammell has found some things to like even as Knotts and his young pitchers have struggled to get wins.

“For a young guy, that's huge in terms of self-confidence when they can pitch out of some jams like that,” Trammell said. “If they get in trouble, and then find a way out, that can only make them better in the long run.”

The Tigers, who earned their first win of the season on Saturday against the White Sox, played pretty well defensively behind Knotts (0-1), and turned a couple of double plays for the cause.

It was an unearned run in the third inning, though, that ultimately came back to haunt Knotts. Dmitri Young spun around and made a nice stop on a smash off the bat of Sandy Alomar, but his throw pulled Carlos Pena off the bag at first, allowing Alomar to reach with one out. Knotts struck out D'Angelo Jimenez, but allowed a hard single to Jose Valentin that put runners at first and third. Magglio Ordonez singled through the left side to score Alomar for a 1-0 lead.

Knotts retired nine of the next 10 batters from there, and the score stayed the same until the seventh, when back-to-back flare singles from Carlos Lee and Armando Rios scored Brian Daubach, who had walked. Joe Crede then singled Lee home to make it 3-0.

Knotts worked out of a first-and-third fix with one out from there and called it a day, allowing seven hits over his seven innings. In just over 12 innings of work this season, he has allowed 12 hits and has a 2.19 ERA.

``I felt pretty good out there. Sometimes the ball just jumps out of your hand,'' Knotts said. ``Today was one of those days.''

Detroit scored both of its runs in the bottom of the seventh as Dean Palmer walked, Craig Paquette singled through the left side, and both moved up on a wild pitch to Eric Munson, who was pinch-hitting for Brandon Inge.

Munson grounded out to the right side, scoring Palmer to make it 3-1. Ramon Santiago then singled to score Paquette and make it a one-run game. The Tigers got the leadoff man on in the ninth when Pena walked, but Paquette hit a first-pitch, double-play ball up the middle to quickly erase the threat.

Chicago starter Bartolo Colon, the former Indian, went seven innings, allowing six hits and striking out nine. He ran his record against the Tigers to 8-3 lifetime.

``We battled. We were down 3-0, and we didn't just fold up the tent,'' Trammell said. ``I know moral victories aren't really big, but, in this case, I really believe it's something to build on. Against a good pitcher like that, we got a couple runs and we were in the ballgame. I see signs we're getting better. Would I like to see more offense? Heck, yeah. But against a guy like Colon, that's a lot to ask for.''

ROAD CREW: The Tigers leave home for their longest road trip of the season - 12 games. They will open tomorrow night in Minnesota, where they have won just two of their last 20 games. Detroit also makes stops in Kansas City, Oakland and Seattle before returning to Comerica Park on April 29 to face Baltimore.

HALTER SEES A TIGER TOWN: Despite the lousy record, embarrassing attendance numbers, and their firm grip on the basement in the Central Division, Detroit's Shane Halter still believes the Tigers can capture the hearts of the Motor City faithful, if they get things turned around. “If the Tigers start winning, this can be a baseball town again,” Halter said. “I know they call it hockey town, but it can be baseball town. I've talked with Alan Trammell, Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish about what it was like here when they were winning, and I'm convinced it can be like that again. I'm excited about that possibility.”

TRAMMELL STANDS PAT: There was no superstition involved, but first-year manager Alan Trammell stayed with essentially the same lineup yesterday as he had on Saturday when the Tigers finally won their first game of the season. Trammell shuffled some positions around in the field, but kept non-regulars Shane Halter, Craig Pauquette and Hiram Bocachica out there. “I'm trying to reward those guys after they helped us get that first win,” Trammell said. “A lot of times it's just a feel, but I'm trying to go with the guys who I feel will help put us in the best position to win.”

HALTER ACCEPTS ROLE: When Detroit brought a bundle of young players up this year, with the expressed intention of playing them until they get it right, things did not look too bright for veteran utilityman Shane Halter in terms of playing time. But Halter, who appeared in more than 350 games for the Tigers over the last three seasons, said yesterday he will fill whatever role Trammell has in mind for him. “I think Alan is going to move guys around, and look for players who do the little things and do them right,” Halter said. “My time will come again - I'm one of those guys.”



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