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Published: Wednesday, 4/14/2010

Late rally lifts Tigers

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT - The Detroit Tigers know they can't expect to keep overcoming big deficits.

For the moment, though, they're going to keep enjoying the results.

Yesterday, the Tigers scored six runs in the seventh to beat the Kansas City Royals 6-5 - the second time in three days that Detroit had won despite trailing 5-0.

"We were able to score runs late again," said Johnny Damon, who singled and scored during the latest rally. "Hopefully, sometime this year we can score some runs early and make it easier on our pitchers, but the fact that we are going out and winning these games says a lot about our team."

Jose Guillen hit his fourth home run in three games as the Royals took a 5-0 lead against Dontrelle Willis and the Detroit bullpen. But just like Sunday, when the Tigers fell behind 5-0 to Cleveland, they recovered to win.

The Tigers (6-2) are now 4-1 in games when they trail after six innings - a trend that manager Jim Leyland doesn't figure to continue.

"This is a team that is going to play nine innings, and that's a good thing," he said. "But I can certainly assure you that if you put yourself into situations like this all year, you aren't going to win. It just won't happen."

Royals manager Trey Hillman, meanwhile, was again searching for answers from his bullpen. Starter Brian Bannister left with one out in the seventh and a 5-1 lead, only to see three relievers give away the game in a span of seven hitters.

"I've never seen anything like that, and I know I've never used that many pitchers that fast," Hillman said. "It was disheartening, disappointing, unbelievable, and a lot of other words that I don't want to use."

Bannister hadn't allowed a runner into scoring position through six innings, but Hillman took him out after Brandon Inge walked and Gerald Laird hit an RBI double.

"There's a lot of times that a pitcher loses it in a hurry in their second or third start of the season, and that's what happened to Banny," Hillman said. "We need someone to step up at that point and throw strikes, but no one did."

Scott Sizemore hit Roman Colon's second pitch for a run-scoring double and with two outs, Austin Jackson pulled the Tigers within 5-3 with Detroit's third RBI double in four batters.

Dusty Hughes (0-1) came in, but didn't retire either batter he faced, leaving Juan Cruz to face Miguel Cabrera with the bases loaded. A four-pitch walk brought in Detroit's fourth run, and Carlos Guillen hit a two-run double on the next pitch to put Detroit up 6-5.

"I think we knew that, with the way Bannister was pitching, our best chance was probably to get to their bullpen," Jackson said. "That's the key to beating a lot of good ballclubs. You don't always want to be playing from behind like this, but we have confidence that, no matter what point it is in the game, we have a chance to come back."

Reliever Joel Zumaya (2-0) picked up the win and Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.

Willis continued to struggle with his command, allowing four runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings.

"His problem was obvious - he wasn't really erratically wild, but there were too many two-ball counts when he was behind the hitter," Leyland said.

NOTES: Both teams threw over 150 pitches for the second game in a row. ... Leyland said after the game that Jackson, who has hits in seven of Detroit's eight games, will get a day off today. Ryan Raburn will play center field.

... Inge's eight-game hitting streak is the longest to start a season by a Tiger since Rondell White had an eight-gamer in 2005.



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