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Published: Monday, 5/5/2008

Tigers squander 6-run lead against Twins

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Tigers' Carlos Guillen scores on a wild pitch by Boof Bonser in the first inning. Detroit scored its only runs in the inning. The Tigers' Carlos Guillen scores on a wild pitch by Boof Bonser in the first inning. Detroit scored its only runs in the inning.
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MINNEAPOLIS - The Detroit Tigers left Yankee Stadium this week with the hope and momentum of a three-game sweep, but Jim Leyland was cautious.

Not over the hump yet, their seen-it-all manager said.

As usual, the boss was right.

Joe Mauer capped a Minnesota rally from a six-run, first-inning deficit, slapping a two-run single up the middle in the seventh to lift the Twins past the Tigers 7-6 yesterday for their fifth straight win.

"I think that's huge for our pitching staff, to show that we're still going to go out there and try to put up runs for 'em," Mauer said.

The Tigers tricked Kenny Rogers into thinking he was getting that kind of support. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and should've been out of the seventh with a 6-3 lead, but third baseman Carlos Guillen let a routine two-out groundball hit by Nick Punto roll off his glove and through his legs.

Four runs scored after that, an RBI single by Carlos Gomez and an RBI double by Brendan Harris against Zach Miner (1-2) followed by Mauer's big hit off Bobby Seay.

The Tigers had only four hits after the opening frame.

"We're swinging at bad pitches. Maybe we're pressing," Guillen said. "We've got to be consistent, and we're not consistent. We've been giving too many at-bats away."

Bothered by that inconsistency, Leyland promised before the game to drastically shake up the lineup beginning tonight at home against Boston. After the game, he declined to specify.

"I'm not talking about that. There will be changes tomorrow," Leyland said.

Though the Tigers were fourth in the league in runs entering the game, their star-stacked offense is still underperforming. One of their limitations, frustrating Leyland, has been the lack of speed and small-ball executions like hit-and-run plays.

Curtis Granderson started the game with a home run. No fundamentals necessary there.

As Bonser struggled through a 45-pitch first inning - four consecutive singles followed Granderson's shot - the Tigers built their big lead and padded it on a wild pitch on strike three to Ivan Rodriguez that allowed him to reach.

Magglio Ordonez, Guillen, and Edgar Renteria each drove in runs with singles in the inning, and Mauer's short throw skipped over second base while Rodriguez was trying to steal - allowing another one to score.

Acting manager Scott Ullger, who said he came within a batter or two of pulling Bonser in the first, told the right-hander to forget about it and start over.

"You come in and say, 'There's a lot of game left,'" Ullger said. "Well, there's the WHOLE game left. So just chip away."

Bonser followed with a five-pitch second inning.

"That's not good," said Leyland, who otherwise shrugged off Guillen's error and the Twins' rally as just part of the game.

Matt Guerrier (2-1) earned the victory with two scoreless innings in relief of Bonser, who recovered nicely after the six-run first to complete six innings with five strikeouts and no walks. One of the runs against him was unearned.

Joe Nathan picked up the save, his 11th in as many attempts, with a scoreless ninth to give the Twins a sweep of this homestand of five intradivision games. They moved into first place in the AL Central on Saturday.



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