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Tigers improve to 9-2 on road thanks to Robertson

SEATTLE (AP) -- Nate Robertson sent a message to his manager: You
can count on me.

Roberston combined with two relievers on a two-hitter and the
Detroit Tigers beat the Seattle Mariners 2-0 on Saturday night.

"I think Jim Leyland got to know me a little better tonight,"
he said.

Robertson (2-2) had lost two straight, including a 10-2 decision
Monday against Cleveland in which he worked just 2 1-3 innings and
gave up eight hits and six runs.

The left-hander needed to show Leyland, in his first season as
the Tigers' manager, that he could turn things around.

"This could be a big step for Nate. Hopefully, he can build on
this," Leyland said. "He was tremendous. He sees now what can
happen when you keep your concentration and go about your business.
Something good can happen instead of something bad. I think that's
a big issue. Hopefully, tonight we got over that hurdle."

Robertson allowed the two hits and two walks and also hit a
batter in seven innings. Jamie Walker and Fernando Rodney retired
the last six hitters, with Rodney getting his fourth save in four
opportunities.

Craig Monroe homered and Magglio Ordonez also had two doubles
and an RBI for the Tigers, who won their fourth straight game.

Robertson showed his mettle in the seventh inning. The Tigers
led 1-0 but Robertson was in jeopardy. He gave up a leadoff infield
single to Jose Lopez then hit Raul Ibanez. Leyland trotted out for
a visit.

"He just told me that he believes in me enough to leave me out
there in that situation to get out of it," Robertson said. "When
a manager believes in you in a situation like that, leaves you in,
that's something to take to the bank. It did a lot for me. That was
outstanding."

Robertson rewarded Leyland's faith by striking out Richie Sexson
and inducing Kenji Johjima to hit into a double play.

"It's a two-way street," Robertson added. "Later in the year
if there's another situation like that, hopefully he'll have that
same kind of approach. We're getting to know each other here."

Robertson was perfect through the first three innings. Ichiro
Suzuki opened the fourth with a dribbler up the first-base line.
Chris Shelton covered the ball, flipped to Robertson but Suzuki
beat him to the base by a half step. Lopez then lined to Shelton,
who stepped on first base to complete the double play.

Mariners starter Gil Meche (1-1) gave up one run and six hits in
six innings and allowed at least one baserunner in five innings.
The Tigers scored in the first on Ordonez's RBI double. Placido
Polanco and Brandon Inge were both thrown out at home plate trying
to score for the Tigers. Suzuki had an assist on both plays.

The Mariners, who have lost three in a row and six of their last
seven, have scored only one run in the past four games prior to the
seventh inning.

"It's a combination of him (Robertson) throwing a good game,"
Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said, "and us not being maybe as
patient at the plate as we could be and trying to do too much with
what we saw. We tried to make things happen instead of waiting for
things to develop."

The Tigers have won nine of their first 11 road games, their
best road start since 1984 when they went 17-0.

The Mariners are now 0-6 against left-handed starters, scoring
just five runs with 22 hits in 35 innings against them.

Game notes
A missed sign in the fifth inning blew a potential rally
and allowed Sexson to be thrown out easily trying to steal second.
However, Hargrove said the batter, Johjima, did not miss a
hit-and-run sign and Sexson did not miss the steal sign. Hargrove
would only say, "it was a sign that was missed. Put it this way,
it was not the players' fault."