Tigers pull ahead of Twins in eighth to avoid sweep

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers insist they haven't given up,
though they are playing for little more than pride and perhaps
their manager's job.

Craig Monroe hit a tiebreaking, two-run single with two outs in
the eighth inning to lift Detroit to a 4-2 win Wednesday over the
Minnesota Twins.

The Tigers avoided a three-game sweep after losing 11 of 13 this

"I don't think anybody has quit, we're just going through a
rough time," Monroe said. "We owe it to ourselves and our fans to
play as hard as we can the rest of the season so that everybody can
have something to look forward to by the time spring training rolls

Curtis Granderson's two-run homer in the third gave the Tigers a
lead they clung to until the eighth, when Michael Cuddyer's two-out
single tied the score at 2.

Craig Dingman (2-2) got the final four outs for the victory.

"The wins have been hard to come by and today was no
different," Detroit manager Alan Trammell said.

While there is speculation that Trammell will -- or should -- be
fired, and sports-talk shows are filled with callers saying the
former Tigers great should be replaced, he has accepted at least
some of the responsibility for what has been a disappointing

Victories such as the one over the Twins give Trammell
confidence, however, that his players have not quit.

"We're not mailing it in," he said.

The Tigers got strong pitching until Vic Darensbourg's brief
appearance with two outs in the eighth.

Joe Mauer and Jacque Jones singled, and Darensbourg was quickly
replaced by Dingman, who gave up Cuddyer's hit before getting out
of the inning.

Losing pitcher Juan Rincon (6-5) entered in the eighth and gave
up three singles and a walk in the inning.

Detroit starter Sean Douglass allowed one run, four hits and a
walk in six innings. Jamie Walker gave up one hit in the seventh
and Chris Spurling retired the only two batters he faced in the

Minnesota's Francisco Liriano gave up two runs, two hits and a
walk while striking out six over five innings in his first major
league start. The highly touted prospect, the starting pitcher for
the World Team in the Futures Game in Detroit during All-Star week,
made his major league debut earlier this month with his first of
two relief appearances.

"The nerves have gone away," Liriano said. "I feel better

Minnesota lefty Johan Santana, who was scheduled to pitch, had
his start pushed back to Saturday because of a blister on his
middle finger.

Liriano showed why the Twins are excited about him.

With a mid-90s fastball, changeup and slider, he retired his
first seven batters, striking out four in a row, before Vance
Wilson walked and Granderson homered to give Detroit a 2-0 lead in
the third.

Luis Rodriguez's RBI single pulled Minnesota within a run in the

Minnesota's Joe Mays pitched the sixth and seventh, giving up
four hits.

"Tough loss for us," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We
pitched good enough to win. We didn't score enough runs."

Liriano was acquired in a trade with San Francisco after the
2003 season along with two-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan and
right-hander Boof Bonser for catcher A.J. Pierzynski.

"What a trade they made getting Nathan and Liriano and another
guy that led the International League in strikeouts," Trammell
said. "They got three quality players for A.J. Pierzynski.

"First impressions, I like (Liriano) kind of like (Seattle's)
Felix Hernandez, who made his debut against us a month or so

Game notes
Minnesota 2B Luis Rivas was benched after the third for not
chasing a foul ball down the right-field line that 1B Justin
Morneau didn't catch. Morneau was charged with an error. ...
Detroit was without its closer, Fernando Rodney, who went to
Florida to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their child. ...
Twins RHP Brad Radke is expected to stay in the rotation the rest
of the season despite shoulder soreness. ... Tigers RHP Jeremy
Bonderman (elbow stiffness) had a limited bullpen session before
the game, and could return to the rotation early next week in
Kansas City. ... Detroit 1B Dmitri Young missed his sixth straight
game with a leg injury. ... The game started after a weather delay
of 13 minutes, then there was a 26-minute delay because of rain in
the top of the third inning.