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Published: Friday, 6/29/2007

Rogers halts Tigers' skid

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Kenny Rogers had thrown 85 pitches in six innings yesterday, but manager Jim Leyland said he still wanted to throw more. Kenny Rogers had thrown 85 pitches in six innings yesterday, but manager Jim Leyland said he still wanted to throw more.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Back on the mound in Detroit, Kenny Rogers gave the Tigers another lift.

He allowed one run over six innings in his first home start since shoulder surgery, leading the Tigers over the Texas Rangers 5-2 yesterday.

"I don't go out there and expect to fail," Rogers said. "It was a good start, but it's only a start."

Rogers (2-0) missed the first 12 weeks of the season after surgery to remove a blood clot from his throwing shoulder. When the left-hander returned last week, he gave up two hits in six shutout innings at Atlanta.

This time, he allowed four hits, struck out three and walked one as Detroit stopped a two-game losing streak and remained a half-game ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central.

"I was a little more comfortable in what I could do," Rogers said.

It was his first start at Comerica Park since Oct. 22, when he pitched eight scoreless innings to win Game 2 of the World Series - the Tigers' only victory against St. Louis.

"We had opportunities to do something, but he did what he always does," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He got out of it."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said Rogers, who was 7-0 in starts after Detroit losses last season, wanted to keep throwing.

"But with 85 pitches and it being his second game back, I'm not going to get crazy," Leyland said. "He's kind of freaky, really. To be out that long and pick both sides of the plate apart. That's not easy to do."

Chad Durbin pitched the eighth, and Todd Jones finished with a perfect ninth for his 19th save in 23 chances, completing a seven-hitter.

Gary Sheffield hit a two-run homer, his team-high 18th, in the seventh off reliever Scott Feldman, and Carlos Guillen had a two-run single in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games and his string of games with an RBI to 11. The latter is one shy of the club record shared by Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane and Rudy York.

"He's locked in," Leyland said. "Rarely do you ever see him throw an at-bat away."

Kevin Millwood (4-7) gave up three runs, five hits and six walks in six innings, striking out six.

"Aside from the walks, I thought this was the best that I've thrown the ball in a long time," said Millwood, who had won his prior two starts.

"It's fun pitching against a team like this for the challenge. But it's mentally and physically draining because no one in that lineup is an easy out."

Sheffield scored Detroit's first run in the fourth on Millwood's wild pitch, and Guillen's single boosted the lead to 3-0.

Michael Young's sixth-inning sacrifice fly ended Rogers' 101/3 inning scoreless streak, and Sheffield's homer made it 5-1. Durbin gave up Sammy Sosa's sacrifice fly.

NOTES: Detroit's Magglio Ordonez extended his hitting streak to 14 games. The game began 17 minutes late to accommodate the umpiring crew, which arrived shortly before the game began because of difficulty leaving Atlanta.

Tigers slugger Gary Sheffield had his three-game suspension reduced to two by Major League Baseball.

Sheffield was ejected May 31 at Cleveland for arguing balls and strikes.

Plate umpire Greg Gibson claimed Sheffield threw a piece of his broken bat at him as he walked away. Sheffield and

Tigers manager Jim Leyland disputed Gibson's account.

"Umpires lie, too," Sheffield said.

"It just goes to show you it wasn't true and how corrupt the umpiring system is," he said. "They can make a statement and that means it's true. And so it has to go all the way to the commissioner's office, just because it has to go to a higher power, I guess, and that means it's true."

Bob Watson, baseball's vice president in charge of discipline, spoke to Sheffield and Leyland before Detroit's 5-2 win over Texas. The Tigers DH hit his 18th home run in the victory.

"Jim and I and Gary had a long conversation before today's game and we came to this agreement," Watson said. "His side was compelling and I felt he was sincere."

Sheffield will sit out games tomorrow and Sunday against Minnesota.

Still, he's not happy with the ruling.

Sheffield brought up another situation - Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca's recent two-game suspension after tossing equipment from the dugout - when talking to Watson.

"I challenged him and asked him, 'Was my situation worse than Paul Lo Duca's?'" Sheffield said. "He said it was the same.

"I didn't throw stuff on the field. When you hear reasoning like that, you know it's a joke."



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