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Maroth extends scoreless innings streak to 17-plus

SEATTLE (AP) -- Mike Maroth says his improvement is all just a
matter of maturity.

A 21-game loser for Detroit in 2003, Maroth improved to 3-0 in
2006 -- with just one earned run allowed in 18 1-3 innings -- and the
Tigers upped their road record to 8-2 with a 2-1 victory over the
Seattle Mariners on Friday night.

"As you gain experience, you get better," the 28-year-old
left-hander said after outpitching Jarrod Washburn. "I'm not
trying to make huge strides. But nothing can replace experience on
the mound."

The Tigers managed only five hits in support of their
outstanding pitching, but it was enough. Placido Polanco had a
tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and Ivan Rodriguez
pounded a 410-foot homer to center off Washburn with two out in the
ninth that proved to be the winning run.

While the Tigers won their third straight game under new manager
Jim Leyland, the Mariners lost for the fifth time in six games.
Detroit is 3-2 in one-run games this year, while Seattle is 0-6.

Maroth (3-0), who came into the game with an 0-2 record and a
15.95 ERA in three previous starts at Safeco Field, pitched six
innings and limited the Mariners to four hits, all singles, with
three walks, three strikeouts and a hit batter.

Maroth improved his scoreless innings streak to 17 1-3 and
lowered his ERA to 0.49.

"It feels great," he said. "Things are going well for me.
Mostly, I had good movement on my sinker tonight. There's really no
secret to it for me. I'm just making my pitches."

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Brandon Inge opened the
inning with a double into the right-field corner against Washburn
(1-3).

In a 10-pitch at-bat, Vance Wilson moved Inge to third with a
groundout to second and Polanco then drove him in with a sacrifice
fly to left. Left fielder Raul Ibanez made a strong throw to the
plate, but Inge scored standing up.

Leyland said Wilson's at bat in the sixth was a key to his
team's win.

"That's the type of player he is," Leyland said of Wilson's
groundout. "He's a battler."

Detroit made it 2-0 off Washburn with two out in the top of the
ninth on Ivan Rodriguez's second homer of the season. Before
Friday, Rodriguez was 1-for-14 in the first three games of the
Tigers' trip.

Rodriguez hit a first-pitch fastball.

"He never swings first pitch off me," Washburn said. "I
wanted to get a nice fastball away for strike one. That's right
where I threw it. He must have went up there and decided to swing
at the first pitch."

The Mariners loaded the bases in the second. Kenji Johjima was
hit by a pitch by Maroth, but was tagged out by shortstop Carlos
Guillen when he made the turn for third after Adrian Beltre's bloop
single and was unable to get back to the bag.

Willie Bloomquist followed with a single and Jeremy Reed walked
to load the bases before Maroth got Ichiro Suzuki to hit the ball
in front of the plate for a 2-3 groundout.

Hargrove didn't criticize Johjima for botching the Mariners'
chance to score in the second.

"That's a tough read," Hargrove said. "Once he made the
decision to go, he just got caught out in no-man's land and
couldn't get back."

After Maroth left the game, the Tigers used Joel Zumaya, who
pitched two scoreless innings with four strikeouts, and newly
activated 37-year-old closer Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his
first save this season. Jones allowed Reed's sacrifice fly before
getting the last out for his 227th career save and 143rd with the
Tigers.

Mariners cleanup hitter Richie Sexson was called out on strikes
against Zumaya to end the eighth.

"They ended the game with two closers there," Sexson said of
Zumaya and Jones. "That guy (Zumaya) could easily be a closer on
any other team."

Washburn pitched 8 2-3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits,
with no walks and two strikeouts.

Game notes
Maroth had a 14-14 record last season and is 43-58 overall.
Maroth's career record for March and April is 8-8. ... Washburn,
who signed a $37.5 million, four-year contract as a free agent in
December, lost his third straight start. ... Before the game, the
Tigers activated Jones from the 15-day disabled list. He was put on
disabled list on April 2 because of a pulled left hamstring. The
Tigers transferred RHP Craig Dingman from the 15-day disabled list
to the 60-day disabled list.