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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2008

Tigers get 3 home runs, but still lose to Cardinals

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Nick Stavinoha, left, and Brendan Ryan celebrate the win.
Nick Stavinoha, left, and Brendan Ryan celebrate the win.
DUANE BURLESON / AP Enlarge

DETROIT - Kenny Rogers threw 37 pitches in the fifth inning last night.

Thirty-seven!

"That's a lot of pitches," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

The St. Louis Cardinals only scored one run on Rogers in the fifth, but they wore out Detroit's pitcher and lulled his teammates to sleep. The Cardinals added three runs in the sixth and seventh frames and outlasted the Tigers 8-4.

A sold-out crowd of 44,446 packed Comerica Park on the night the 1968 World Series Champion Tigers team was honored before the game. The crowd was the third-largest this season and in park history, and took part in the pre-game hoopla surrounding the heroes of yesteryear.

Once things got down to business, though, Leyland said his team was out of whack.

Detroit had its share of highlights - three homers, including one by Gary Sheffield, and a scoreless inning for Fernando Rodney - but was affected by the snail's pace of the game, according to its manager.

"The game flow was terrible for us," Leyland said of a game that lasted 3:14. "The innings were too long for us. Kenny was a little more deliberate, took a little more time than normal."

Rogers entered the game with a 1.00 ERA in his last five starts. He worked two scoreless innings at the outset, but allowed a run while facing six batters in the third and had that marathon fifth when the Cardinals really made him work.

Rogers retired the first two hitters in the fifth, but allowed a solo homer to Brian Barton. St. Louis then loaded the bases on a double and two walks before Rogers struck out Rick Ankiel.

The Cardinals' three runs in the sixth were charged to Rogers, although two scored on Skip Schumaker's pinch-hit, two-run single off Freddy Dolsi.

"I'm not looking at it as a bad day," Rogers said.

"The results weren't good, but it was one of those days where I don't have great stuff but I manage through it. That's what I was doing."

The Tigers led 2-1 after four innings on solo homers by Pudge Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera, both off St. Louis starter Braden Looper.

Rodriguez is batting .441 (15-for-36) in his last 10 games. Leyland said Brandon Inge will catch tonight instead of Rodriguez, but Leyland's Rodriguez-Inge platoon behind the plate could be over.

Leyland was switching his catchers every other day, but that practice stalled last week when Inge rested a sore oblique muscle.

In the 10 games prior to Rodriguez's current hot streak, he hit .097 and appeared in need of a break.

And speaking of breaks, the Tigers may have caught one in the fourth on Cabrera's solo shot. Cabrera hit a line drive to right that replays showed just did hit the yellow line on top of the wall and was ruled a homer.

The next Tiger to go deep was Sheffield, who was activated off the disabled list yesterday. Following Marcus Thames' double to start the seventh, Sheffield hit his fourth homer this season - a liner to left off of Looper.

Rodney worked the ninth inning and retired all three hitters he faced. Having joined the Tigers last week for the first time this season after battling shoulder soreness, Rodney had allowed three hits and walked three in two appearances, covering one-third of an inning.

Last night's troubles aside, the Tigers (36-40) have won 10 of their last 13 games.

"We're in that part of the season where everyone is ready to go," Rodriguez said.

"Physically, mentally, hitting, pitching, everybody's back. We have to keep playing."

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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