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Simon's fourth hit helps set up Tigers' win

9/26/2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Randall Simon didn't forget how to hit.

Simon, who played just two of the previous 13 games while the Tigers looked at prospects, had four hits Wednesday night, including one that moved up the winning run for Chris Truby's sacrifice fly in the 12th inning as Detroit beat the Kansas City Royals 7-6.

"He's incredible,'' manager Luis Pujols said. "The man knows how to hit.''

Simon's .500 career average (9-of-18) against Royals starter Paul Byrd convinced Pujols to put Simon into the lineup.

"A couple of days ago I told him to get ready to play in Kansas City, because I looked at the matchups,'' Pujols said. "He's a good hitter. I'll probably play him again tomorrow. It's hard to be out of the lineup for a week or 10 days and come in and hit four ropes like that.''

Simon, hitting .302 after his 4-for-6 night, was glad for the
opportunity.

"It's great to know that if he gives me the chance I can come
through,'' he said. "I know I have the ability to hit. I'm a
player that wants to be out there every day. But those young guys
need to play so they can prove what they can do.''

Carlos Pena led off the 12th with a single and Simon singled for
his fourth hit of the game, sending Pena to third. Truby then hit a
fly ball to right field, enabling Pena to score easily.

Adam Bernero (4-7) got the win, pitching three scoreless
innings.

Jeremy Hill (0-1) got the loss.

An error by shortstop Omar Infante helped the Royals score the
tying run in the ninth. Infante let Raul Ibanez's potential
double-play grounder roll through his legs with one out, and Joe
Randa's RBI single made it 6-all.

"You don't see that too often. Sometimes you have to be patient
with young kids,'' Pujols said. "The ball was hit hard and he
tried to come up too quickly. The ball just barely went under his
glove. He's a reliable fielder. I was glad to see everybody in the
dugout pat him on the back.''

The game got off to a high-scoring start, with Kansas City
taking a 5-4 lead after only one inning.

Simon hit his 19th homer in the Detroit third, tying it at 5.

The Tigers took a 6-5 lead in the seventh when Hiram Bocachica
doubled with two outs off Paul Byrd and Pena singled.

Detroit took advantage of what may have been a little revenge in
the first.

With two outs, Byrd hit Robert Fick with a pitch in the right
leg. In Tuesday's game, Royals star Mike Sweeney was hit by a pitch
by Matt Anderson, a friend of former Tigers pitcher Jeff Weaver.
Last year, Weaver and Sweeney were involved in a bench-clearing
brawl.

Pena followed with a double, Simon hit a two-run single and
Shane Halter hit a two-run homer for a 4-0 lead. Fick was replaced
in right field by Bocachica in the bottom of the first after
complaining of stiffness in his right hamstring. He's listed as day
to day, though he probably won't play on Thursday. Pujols said the
injury was not related to his getting hit by the pitch.

Chuck Knoblauch led off the Royals first with a single and
Carlos Beltran hit his 27th home run, giving him 100 RBI.

With one out, Ibanez grounded back to pitcher Steve Sparks,
whose throw went over Pena's head at first for a two-base error.

Michael Tucker hit an RBI single, Angel Berroa doubled home a
run and Neifi Perez hit an RBI single.

"It's not too many times that we score so many runs in the
first inning. That was a long inning,'' Pujols said. "They hit a
lot of good knuckleballs that were down. A lot of times, it's
because the pitches are up. After that first inning, (Sparks) did a
great job. He threw the ball well.

"They hit good knuckleballs early. He kept throwing it and I
guess they kept missing.''

The Royals had a chance to score in the bottom of the seventh
when Randa blooped a two-out single to right with Sweeney on first.
Bocachica threw to second, catching Randa in a rundown, and then
Sweeney tried to score and was thrown out by Infante.

Game notes
It was the Tigers' first victory in four extra-inning road games this year. ... Beltran became the first player in Royals
history to have 100 runs scored and 100 RBI in a season three
times. He also accomplished the feat in 1999 and last year. ...
With two hits in three at-bats off Byrd, Simon improved to
11-for-21 (.524) with three home runs in his career off the
right-hander. ... Sweeney went 0-for-4, dropping his average to
.344. He's second in the American League in hitting to Manny
Ramirez of Boston (.347). ... A.J. Hinch returned to the Kansas
City lineup for the first time since his wife gave birth to the
couple's first child Monday.