ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- John Lackey won the seventh game of the
World Series, so it's easy for people to forget that he's only in
his first full season in the big leagues -- and still learning.
"A pitcher can only do so much," Lackey said. "You can't go
up there and score runs for yourself, and you've got to have good
defense behind you. So all three parts of the game have to be
working as one. I have to give a lot of the credit to the defense.
They made some nice plays for me, and that makes it a lot easier."
Lackey (8-11) allowed seven hits, including Bobby Higginson's
10th home run of the season leading off the ninth. The homer came
on Lackey's 93rd and last pitch. It was the only baserunner that
advanced past second base against the right-hander, who struck out
seven and walked one in eight-plus innings. It was his first win in
six starts since July 13.
Troy Percival closed it out for his 26th save in 27 chances.
"When you see a guy give an effort like Lackey did tonight,
It's always fun to be able to go out there and finish it for him,"
Percival said. "I really feel confident when I go out there, and
there's no doubt in my mind that I'm going to get the job done when
Bengie Molina drove in two runs, helping the Angels beat Detroit
for the ninth straight time. The Tigers (31-89) have only one more
win than the 1962 Mets had after 120 games, when manager Casey
Stengel's first-year expansion team finished with the worst record
in baseball history at 40-120.
"I know what our record is. It's terrible. But I don't think
anybody envisioned it quite like this," rookie manager Alan
Trammell said. "If we had a few more wins, the only thing that
would make it better for us is that we wouldn't be going for the
all-time worst record -- which is the way people talk about our
Before third baseman Eric Munson was placed on the disabled list
Thursday, the Tigers had 11 rookies on their 25-man roster -- eight
of them pitchers.
"That's the price you've got to pay," said Dimtri Young, the
Tigers' only All-Star representative. "Not every team is going to
have that Cinderella all-rookie team that's going to tear up the
American League. It would be nice, but this is a learning
experience. People are going to go home this offseason and work
hard and know what they have to do for next year, so they won't go
through the same thing ... as this year."
Nate Cornejo (5-12) lost for the 10th time in 12 decisions over
his last 17 starts. He allowed two runs and six hits in seven
innings and escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, striking out
Scott Spiezio after an intentional walk to Garret Anderson and
retiring Jeff DaVanon on a groundout.
"I was glad about how I stepped up and got out of that
inning," Cornejo said. "The whole game, except for that first
inning, I was challenging the hitters. I was just throwing the ball
over the plate and trying to make them swing the bat and pound the
ball on the ground."
Spiezio, who hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the first
inning, led off the fourth with a double and scored when Molina
grounded into a force play. Molina added an RBI single in the
eighth against Chris Mears for his 60th RBI.
Lackey induced two double-play grounders. One of them was the
result of interference on Shane Halter, who was running on the
pitch when Brandon Inge hit a grounder up the middle -- and elbowed
second baseman Adam Kennedy out of the way as Kennedy made a late
relay throw to first base.
The game took just 2 hours, 16 minutes. ... Young doubled
with one out in the Detroit seventh, but Carlos Pena and Craig
Monroe struck out. ... Trammell said he was taking RHP Matthew
Roney out of the rotation and putting him in the bullpen after six
straight losses by the rookie. The top candidates to start next
Tuesday are Shane Loux and Steve Sparks. ... Anaheim SS David
Eckstein was back in the lineup after missing three games because
of tightness in his right hamstring.