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Royals' Byrd tosses four-hitter at Tigers

9/14/2002

DETROIT (AP) -- After two rough starts in a row, Paul Byrd found
the perfect antidote for his slump -- an outing against the Detroit
Tigers.

Byrd pitched a four-hitter for his American League-leading seventh complete
game and Mike Sweeney had two RBI as the Kansas City Royals beat
Detroit 5-1 Saturday.

''The Tigers don't walk much -- they just swing away,'' said
Byrd, who has three complete games against the Tigers this season.
''I know they are going to come out swinging, so if I make my
pitches, it can go pretty well.''

In Byrd's previous two starts, he allowed 16 runs in nine
innings to Oakland and Chicago.

''My last two starts were the worst back-to-back starts of my
career,'' he said. ''But I got a pep talk from my wife and my
parents drove in to see the game today, which was really nice. They
hit some balls at guys and we got some early runs. That helped a
lot.''

The victory was just Kansas City's second in 12 games, while the
Tigers fall to 3-10 in September. The Royals increased their lead
over Detroit to four games in the race to avoid the American League Central
cellar.

''Every time Paul pitches, we know we've got a great chance to
win,'' Kansas City manager Tony Pena said. ''We got him a five-run
lead and he just took over. You can't ask for a better job than he
did.''

Byrd (16-11) beat the Tigers for the third time in four
decisions this year, improving his career mark to 4-1. He walked
one and struck out seven.

Andy Van Hekken (1-1) took his first career defeat, allowing three
runs, six hits and two walks in just 1 2/3 innings. Van Hekken,
making his third career start, left with a bruised left hand, but
is not expected to miss his next outing.

''I was all over the place -- I just never got on the right
track,'' Van Hekken said. ''I just never had any command today,
right from the first batter.''

The Royals led 3-0 after two innings, but could have had more,
leaving the bases loaded in both innings.

Michael Tucker led off the game with a walk, took third on
Carlos Beltran's single and scored on Sweeney's infield single. Kit
Pellow later walked to load the bases with one out, but Van Hekken
got out of the inning.

The Royals scored twice with two outs in the second on run-scoring hits
by Beltran and Sweeney. Joe Randa followed with a grounder off Van
Hekken's hand, forcing him out of the game.

''He's got a big bruise on his hand, so we wanted to get him out
of there,'' Tigers manager Luis Pujols said. ''I was close to
taking him out anyway. I've seen him a lot better than today, but I
don't think I've seen him worse.''

Detroit's feeble defense led to two more Kansas City runs in the
fifth. With one out, Angel Berroa doubled and moved to third when
right fielder Robert Fick misplayed the ball. A.J. Hinch grounded
to shortstop, but the ball skipped off Ramon Santiago's glove,
allowing Berroa to score.

Luis Ordaz hit a bloop single to right, and Fick's throw to
third sailed into the stands for his second error in a span of
three batters, and Detroit's third. Hinch scored on the play and
Ordaz ended up on third.

''That was actually as much Brian Powell's fault as Fick's,''
Pujols said. ''He has to get off the mound and back up third on a
play like that.''

Detroit broke the shutout in the sixth on Santiago's run-scoring groundout, but Byrd retired 12 of the game's final 13 batters.

''He just goes out there and destroys your timing,'' Detroit's
Carlos Pena said. ''He can put every pitch exactly where he wants
it, and you are always swinging a little too early or a little too
late.''

Game notes
Fick had an assist in the fourth inning. He leads the
majors with 18 outfield assists and with 12 outfield errors. ...
Ernie Harwell, who is retiring at the end of the season, was
reunited with Ray Lane to announce the first three innings on
radio. Harwell and Lane announced Tigers games from 1967-72. On
Sunday, Harwell will call three innings with Paul Carey, who was
his partner after Lane until 1991. ... The Tigers need to go 14-0
to finish with a better record than their 66-96 mark of 2001 and
10-4 to avoid 100 defeats. ... Sweeney has 20 RBI in his last 12
games.