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Published: Sunday, 4/10/2005

Tigers pound Indian nemesis

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Marcus Thames, center, is greeted by Carlos Pena, left, and Dmitri Young, right, after his grand slam in the third inning. Marcus Thames, center, is greeted by Carlos Pena, left, and Dmitri Young, right, after his grand slam in the third inning.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Consider the "Jake Westbrook jinx" officially conquered.

Last season the Cleveland Indians' right-hander was 2-0 with a 3.41 ERA against the Detroit Tigers, including seven no-hit innings April 19 and another strong seven-inning performance in a victory Sept. 22.

Yesterday Detroit, which used a lineup that didn't include Ivan Rodriguez or Rondell White, ripped Westbrook (0-2) for seven hits, five of which went for extra bases. The Tigers scored eight times against Westbrook in fewer than two innings and cruised to an 11-1 victory at Comerica Park.

"I thought my sinker was OK, but I located the middle of the plate too much," Westbrook said. "I'm an aggressive pitcher, but they were aggressive hitters. You can't let up at all pitching to them, even when they have guys out of the lineup."

The Tigers jumped on the right-hander for a pair of first-inning runs when Carlos Guillen was hit by a pitch and Carlos Pena followed by going the other way with a full-count sinker, driving it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.

Detroit scored once in the second when Brandon Inge tripled off the wall in right-center, then came home one out later when Nook Logan singled through a drawn-in infield.

Then the Tigers knocked Westbrook out of the box with a five-run third that was aided by a pair of Indians errors.

Guillen opened the frame with a single, and back-to-back walks loaded the bases. Craig Monroe's grounder behind second base set up Cleveland for a double-play, but Ronnie Belliard dropped shortstop Jhonny Peralta's throw to second for an error that scored a run and kept the bases loaded.

Marcus Thames then ripped Westbrook's next pitch to deep left-center for the second grand slam of his career.

"Jake left some pitches out over the middle of the plate, but we didn't help out behind him," Tribe manager Eric Wedge said. "We didn't make the plays we needed to to help him out."

The sloppy Tribe finished with three errors, and another miscue played a role in Detroit's three-run fourth. Singles by Guillen and Dmitri Young put runners on first and third with one out before Monroe served a back-door breaking ball by Scott Sauerbeck to right for an RBI single. With two outs, Inge hit an RBI single to right-center before Vance Wilson hit what seemed to be an inning-ending grounder to short. But Peralta's throw to second was high, and Inge reached the bag before Belliard came down with the throw for an error that allowed Monroe to score.

"We needed a game like this to make a statement," Monroe said. "We thought we let them off the hook yesterday. Our bench guys have proven we can play the game and give the starters the day off."

While Detroit starter Wil Ledezma wasn't particularly sharp in his first start this season, he received plenty of help from his outfield in earning the win. In the fourth Thames made a diving catch on the warning track in left on a drive by Victor Martinez, and Monroe snagged Ben Broussard's fly to the fence in right.

In the fifth Monroe made a pair of fine running catches to keep Ledezma out of trouble.

"We call ourselves 'The Young Crew,' " Monroe said of he and fellow outfielders Logan and Thames. "We told one another, 'We've got the Young Crew out there today. Let's go out, work hard, play hard, and make the plays for Ledezma.' "

Cleveland's lone run came when Aaron Boone led off the fourth with his second home run in as many days.

"I thought we swung the bats well today," Wedge said. "But they were running down everything."

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com or 419-724-6481.



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