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Published: Wednesday, 5/20/2009

Willis wins first game since 2007


DETROIT - Dontrelle Willis finally won again after nearly 20 months.

Willis allowed one hit while working into the seventh inning of Detroit's 4-0 win over the Texas Rangers last night. It was the Tigers' fourth straight win and snapped Texas' seven-game winning streak.

Willis (1-0), making his second start since coming off the disabled list with an anxiety disorder, struck out five in 61/3 innings to win for the first time since Sept. 25, 2007. He allowed two baserunners in the first

inning, then retired 17 straight.

"He was tremendous," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Hopefully we can build on that."

Andruw Jones' walk with one out in the seventh ended Willis' run of retired batters and his outing. Willis left to a loud ovation and four relievers finished the shutout.

"I appreciate it," Willis said of the cheers. "Now that I feel healthy and strong, I think I can start building some trust out there."

Willis' last win came against the Chicago Cubs when he was still pitching for the Florida Marlins. He began last night's game with a 7.71 ERA but trimmed it to 3.27.

The 2003 NL rookie of the year was acquired by Detroit from Florida in a blockbuster deal that also landed slugger Miguel Cabrera. But Willis was a mess last season, with a 9.38 ERA in only 24 innings. He missed most of the season with a right knee injury and battled control problems when he was on the mound.

"I think he's in the process of working himself back," Leyland said. "We're going to take our time with it and let it develop."

Brandon McCarthy (3-2)

allowed four runs and nine hits in the first seven innings and lost for the second time in as many decisions.

The Rangers never could seem to figure out Willis. Michael Young doubled in the first but the rest of the balls Texas lifted out of the infield were easy pickings for Detroit's outfielders.

Detroit scored once in each of the first three innings on sacrifice flies by Jeff Larish and Gerald Laird and a Placido Polanco single. The fourth came on Miguel Cabrera's RBI double in the seventh.

The Tigers' pitching staff picked up its sixth shutout a season after posting just two.

The loss was the ninth straight at Comerica Park for the Rangers.

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