SEATTLE (AP) -- Jason Johnson wanted to notch a complete game,
and the Seattle bullpen put him in a great position to nail it
Seattle had things in control after a solid night from Joel
Pineiro, who was outstanding though seven innings after a shaky
first. But the bullpen broke down in the eighth, when Detroit sent
nine batters to the plate.
"The way Pineiro was pitching tonight, to see us come back the
way we did in the eighth was great for the team," Johnson said.
"It got everybody pumped up. Everybody decided to get out there
and keep hitting."
Johnson (3-5) didn't get his complete game after giving up two
runs in the ninth, but the win pulled the Tigers to .500 at 21-21
and assured them of a series victory going into Sunday's finale.
"Behold, we got five runs in the eighth inning," Detroit
manager Alan Trammell said. "That was huge. We got a series, and
that's the most important thing."
The Tigers trailed 2-1 but tied it off reliever J.J. Putz (0-1).
Alex Sanchez led off with a single to right, took second on Carlos
Guillen's sacrifice and scored on Ivan Rodriguez's RBI double to
"Pudge hit a good sinker, down and in," said Putz, who gave up
his first run in 13 1-3 innings this season. "He just put a good
piece of wood on it."
After Putz walked Rondell White, lefty Mike Myers took over and
walked Bobby Higginson before striking out pinch-hitter Greg
Norton. That's when Monroe doubled to left-center with the bases
loaded to make it 5-3 sending many displeased fans to the exits.
"Joel held us in a position to win going into the eighth inning
with our setup guys and our closer," Seattle manager Bob Melvin
said. "To put that much pressure on the pitching, it's definitely
mounting on us."
The boos continued in the ninth when White added a two-run
single, advancing to second when left fielder Raul Ibanez couldn't
collect the ball and was charged with an error.
Johnson didn't allow a hit until the ninth after Scott Spiezio's
two-run homer just inside the right-field foul pole in the fourth
put Seattle ahead 2-1.
"Going into that last inning, we only have four hits again and
only two runs," Melvin said. "And the home run, Spiezio hits it
on a 3-0 pitch. We have to score more runs."
Johnson left after allowing two runs in the ninth on Edgar
Martinez's one-out RBI double and a single to center by Spiezio
that allowed a run to score when Sanchez was charged with a
fielding error in center.
Johnson gave up seven hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in
8 1-3 inning and ended a six-game losing skid against Seattle.
"He wanted to finish the game, and that is a good sign,"
Trammell said. "He is our ace."
One week ago, Johnson left after five innings against Texas
because of a nagging blister, but it didn't bother him this time.
"It felt good because I hadn't gone too deep because of the
blister," he said. "It held real well today and I was able to
pitch my normal game."
It was a tough outcome for Pineiro, who was poised to improve
his lifetime record against the Tigers to 6-0 after retiring the
last 13 hitters he faced. He gave up five hits with seven
strikeouts and two walks.
"It's frustrating, the way he battled," Putz said. "He threw
a lot of pitches early and got us through seven. It's frustrating
when he pitches the way he did and we don't get it done for us."
Pineiro threw 35 pitches in the first. ... The Tigers have
51 runs and 48 RBI with the bases loaded, leading the majors in
both categories. ... Immediately after Spiezio's homer, Melvin told
plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt that Aurilia and John Olerud were
trapped in the video room. The door was drilled out and play
resumed after a few minutes when Olerud, the next hitter, emerged
and teammates giggled in the dugout. "It was funnier at the
time," Melvin said.