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Published: Saturday, 8/5/2006

Detroit's winning HR follows a long foul

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge goes into the stands and head over heels to catch a foul pop off the bat of the Indians' Victor Martinez. Detroit won despite a short night's rest. Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge goes into the stands and head over heels to catch a foul pop off the bat of the Indians' Victor Martinez. Detroit won despite a short night's rest.
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DETROIT - Craig Monroe's final at-bat last night began just like his last plate appearance the night before. With the Detroit Tigers down a run in the eighth inning, Monroe fouled a ball deep to left field, bringing some of the crowd of 41,502 to its feet.

The sellout crowd at Comerica Park was able to take a prolonged stand on the next pitch, because Monroe's next swing sent the ball 379 feet over the left-field fence.

Capped by Monroe's home run, Detroit came back from five runs down to beat the Cleveland Indians 7-6. It was an impressive win to Tigers manager Jim Leyland because his team was coming off a 10-game road trip.

"To be honest with you, I didn't have a really good feeling about this one, coming back," Leyland said. "Whichever team got out front, we all got in at 3 a.m., this was an easy night to pack it in. We didn't do it, and I think that's a compliment to our ballclub."

Monroe has hit home runs in three consecutive games and four of the past five. With the words "Anything's Possible" tattooed on his left shoulder, he has hit 10 of his 18 home runs this year in the seventh inning or later.

"For him, this is a step toward coming of age," Tigers closer Todd Jones said. "You're starting to see a guy who has proven to himself he can handle late-inning pressure situations and get quality at-bats."

The night began with the Indians (47-61) scoring three runs in the first off Jeremy Bonderman. Victor Martinez and Shin-Soo Choo had RBI doubles, and Casey Blake drove in Travis Hafner on a groundout to second.

Hafner hit his 32nd home run in the fifth inning, a no-doubter to right field. In the sixth Andy Marte collected his first hit with the Indians, a single to score Choo that put the Indians up 5-0 and knocked out Bonderman.

The Tigers (73-36) starting chipping away in the sixth, beginning with Brandon Inge's infield single to deep third. Placido Polanco's triple to left-center field scored Inge, and Ivan Rodriguez's grounder to third scored Polanco.

Choo beat a double play with the bases loaded to score another run in the seventh.

But in the bottom of the inning, Sean Casey hit a one-out double off Indians starter Cliff Lee to score two runs.

"I thought I made a pretty good pitch [but] he hit it into the gap and then that was it," Lee said. "It turned it from a really good start into a mediocre to a below-average start."

The Tigers started the eighth by getting their first two on base. Carlos Guillen hit a sacrifice fly with one out to bring Detroit within one run. Then came Monroe's shot off reliever Fernando Cabrera.

"[Cabrera's] young but he's had some experience up here," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "He's got to be able to make adjustments. He didn't make any adjustments."

Thursday gainst Tampa Bay, Monroe was up in the ninth with the Tigers down one run. He had a 10-pitch at-bat, including the long foul, before drawing a walk.

"I want to be one of those players that grinds out every at-bat like everybody else does," Monroe said. "You're going to have some times when you fail, but you're going to have the times when you succeed."

Roman Colon pitched 21/3 innings to get the win, and Jones collected his 30th save.

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.



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