Series: Game 1 of 3

Detroit leads 1-0 (as of 6/11)

Game 1: Friday, June 11
Game 2: Saturday, June 12
Game 3: Sunday, June 13

Marlins 4

(34-27, 18-15 away)

Tigers 8

(28-32, 15-17 home)

    7:05 PM ET, June 11, 2004

    Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan 

    123456789 R H E
    FLA 000020200 4 5 0
    DET 00160010 - 8 11 0

    W: G. Knotts (4-1)

    L: T. Phelps (1-1)

    2-for-4 in first game vs. Florida

    DETROIT (AP) -- Ivan Rodriguez tried to treat Friday as just another day at the ballpark.

    But his first game against the team he led to a World Series title only months ago was always going to be more than that.

    "This was a special night," said Rodriguez, who homered and went 2-for-4 in the Detroit Tigers' 8-4 victory over the Florida Marlins. "I had a lot of fun."

    The 10-time All-Star catcher signed a $40 million, four-year contract with Detroit in the offseason -- and he's a big reason the Tigers have improved so quickly after losing an AL-record 119 games in 2003.

    At 28-32, they are a game ahead of Florida's 60-game pace last season.

    "When I meet with my teammates, I keep reminding them of that," Rodriguez said. "We struggled last year in Florida, and we ended up winning the World Series. There's a lot of talent on this team -- I keep telling them."

    Before the game, he spent much of batting practice chatting with his former teammates.

    "That was really nice," Rodriguez said. "I was glad to get to see everyone."

    Gary Knotts (4-1), another former Marlin, got the win. He allowed four runs on five hits and three walks in 6 1-3 innings, helping Detroit improve to 3-1 in interleague play.

    "I was just trying to treat it as another game," Knotts said. "We've got a nice little run here and I just wanted to keep it going."

    Dmitri Young hit a three-run shot for his first homer of the year, and Carlos Guillen added a two-run drive for the Tigers.

    Former Tigers farmhand Tommy Phelps (1-1) took the loss, giving up six runs and six in three-plus innings.

    "I felt better tonight than I have in some of my other starts," he said. "But I made two mistakes and they got hit. I left a pitch up to (Carlos) Pena in the third, and he got a triple, and I put a changeup right down the middle to Dmitri."

    Detroit took a 1-0 lead on Omar Infante's sacrifice fly in the third, then scored six times in the fourth.

    The first five batters of the inning scored on homers by Young and Guillen, who set a career high with his 10th of the season.

    Michael Neu replaced Phelps and got the first out of the inning, but Eric Munson singled and scored on Infante's triple to make it 7-0.

    Knotts was perfect through four innings, but Miguel Cabrera led off the fifth with an infield single and moved up when Hee Seop Choi walked. Former Tiger Damion Easley followed with an RBI single, and Lenny Harris' groundout drove in another run.

    Cabrera led off the seventh with his 16th homer, and Harris added an RBI double to pull Florida to 7-4 and chase Knotts.

    "We got some nice hitting late in the game, but then it was too late," Florida manager Jack McKeon said. "We can't keep going through five or six innings with only two hits. That makes it too hard to come from behind."

    Rodriguez led off the bottom of the seventh with a long homer to left, his eighth of the year.

    "Mr. Rodriguez is a special player, and we could spend an hour saying good things about him," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said.

    Danny Patterson and Al Levine finished it, combining for 2 2-3 scoreless innings.

    Game notes

    Young hadn't homered since Sept. 26. He's been limited to 10 games this season because of a broken leg. ... The game drew 27,184 fans. ... Detroit Pistons guard Mike James attended the game as a guest of Tigers OF Rondell White, who was one of many Tigers to attend Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Thursday. ... Easley, cut by Detroit before last season with two years left on his contract, is still the fourth highest-paid player on their payroll behind Bobby Higginson, Young and Rodriguez.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press