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Published: Thursday, 10/1/2009

Tigers' Ordonez keys win for 3-game lead

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT - Magglio Ordonez is supposed to help the Detroit Tigers win titles. Eddie Bonine is a bit of a surprise.

Ordonez hit a three-run double, Bonine lasted five innings after a shaky start and the Tigers beat the Minnesota Twins 7-2 last night to move closer to the American League Central title.

"You need everyone on your team to step up right now, and that's what happened tonight," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "Bonine was fantastic - we got more from him than we could have asked - and the offense gave us the runs he needed."

The Tigers increased their lead to three games over the Twins, and can clinch their first division title since 1987 with a victory in today's series finale.

"We're trying to look at tomorrow's game like we would any other game," said Brandon Inge, who had a tying two-run double. "But it is human nature to realize what we can do tomorrow. Even if you don't want to think about it, you do."

Detroit finishes the season with a three-game series at home against Chicago. Minnesota returns home to face Kansas City, including an expected matchup with AL Cy Young Award hopeful Zack Greinke.

"It doesn't look very good right now, but it isn't over yet," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "I'm not a math guy, but I believe that tomorrow is a must-win situation."

Bonine (1-1), making his ninth career start, allowed two runs in the first but shut down the Twins for the rest of his outing. He gave up seven hits, walked two and struck out three.

"This is a great, great feeling," said Bonine, who earned his first major league win since June 27, 2008. "After the first, I just settled into a groove and tried to attack. The defense made plays and the guys got the big hits."

The Twins put two runners in scoring position in the final eight innings.

"We really didn't do a thing after the first inning," Gardenhire said. "It just didn't work out tonight."

Ordonez's second key hit in consecutive days broke it open in the fifth. The Tigers loaded the bases with one out against Carl Pavano (13-12), who responded by getting Miguel Cabrera to pop up. Ordonez followed with a drive to center to clear the bases and give the Tigers a 7-2 lead.

"That was the killer blow," Leyland said. "Carl's been tough on us all year, and he had popped up Cabrera, so if he gets Magglio, it's a whole different ballgame."

Ordonez, who was booed by Tigers fans during a poor first half, also had a two-run double in Detroit's 6-5 victory Tuesday that salvaged a split of the key day-night doubleheader.

"No one in this clubhouse has ever turned their back on Maggs," Inge said. "We know what he's done for this franchise, and we knew he was going to do even more."

Pavano allowed seven runs and seven hits in 42/3 innings. He was 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA in five previous starts against Detroit this year.

Bonine was hurt in the first by another defensive mistake by center fielder Curtis Granderson, who misplayed a ball in the ninth inning Tuesday night that helped the Twins pull within one.

Bonine retired leadoff hitter Denard Span, but Orlando

Cabrera, Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel followed with consecutive singles to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. Michael Cuddyer walked before Delmon Young lifted a fly ball to deep center field. Granderson turned the wrong way, allowing the ball to sail over his head, but recovered quickly enough to hold the Twins to one run and Jose Morales hit into an inning-ending double play.



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