CLEVELAND (AP) -- Kenny Rogers knew the situation and stepped up.
The Tigers avoided a series sweep at Cleveland by posting their 82nd victory of the year, which clinched the club's first winning season since 1993. Only Milwaukee and Pittsburgh entered 2006 with longer streaks of consecutive non-winning seasons than Detroit; the Brewers and Pirates last posted winning records in 1992. Detroit's streak of 12 consecutive seasons at-or-below .500 (1994-2005) was the longest in franchise history and the longest for any American League club since the Mariners had a 14-year below-water streak beginning with their inaugural season (1977-1990).
Rogers put on a pitching performance that Detroit desperately
needed and the Tigers backed him with four home runs, beating the
Cleveland Indians 7-1 Sunday and ending a four-game losing streak."I wanted to be the guy to stop it," Rogers said. "That's for
sure."Curtis Granderson led off the game with a homer and Marcus
Thames, Carlos Guillen and Ivan Rodriguez later connected as the
Tigers averted a four-game sweep. They won for only the sixth time
in 19 games since Aug. 7 -- when they held a 10-game lead in the AL
Central.Manager Jim Leyland said that's no reason to alter his patient
approach."I told the team what they saw today is why I haven't been
ranting and raving," Leyland said. "We're not going to panic.
What's been happening to us is what happens to every team in
baseball. It's noticed more because we're in a pennant race. We're
not going to have meetings or all this urgency. It doesn't work
that way."Cleveland had won four in a row overall and eight straight at
home.Detroit, with the best record in the majors, has a five-game
division lead over Minnesota. After an off-day, the Tigers start a
three-game series against New York at Yankee Stadium. That doesn't
seem to faze Leyland, either."Either we're good enough or we're not," he said. "You have
to keep playing. If it's good enough, we'll still be playing in
October. If not, we'll go home. We'll find out."Rogers (14-6) won his third straight start, allowing one run and
four hits in seven innings."Every pitcher knows how much the games mean when you go out
there," he said. "This took on added importance with the way
we've been playing. I know it's important, but it doesn't make me
pitch good."Rogers struck out three and walked three. The lefty has yielded
only three runs over 19 innings during his win streak. The
41-year-old All-Star had been 0-3 with a 6.37 ERA in six
second-half starts before topping Texas on Aug. 17 and pitching
seven scoreless innings in a win over the White Sox five days
later.The Tigers are 20-7 overall in games started by Rogers this
season.Granderson hit the third pitch of the game from Cliff Lee
(10-10) over the wall in right-center for his 13th homer. The
rookie came in hitting only .132 (19-for-76) in 23 games in August.Consecutive one-out singles by Jason Michaels, Travis Hafner and
Victor Martinez in the bottom half tied it at 1. Rogers allowed
only one hit and three walks over the next 6 2-3 innings."I got into a groove after the first," Rogers said. "I don't
think I made any adjustments. I just got into my pitching."Granderson doubled to open the third and one out later, Thames --
hitting only .171 (12-for-70) over his previous 24 games -- hit a
418-foot shot to center for his 23rd homer and 3-1 lead."I have to figure a way to keep the ball in the ballpark,"
said Lee, who has yielded a team-high 25 homers in 162 innings.Brandon Inge doubled to start the fifth and later scored on a
sacrifice fly by Craig Monroe.Guillen hit his 15th homer in the sixth for a 5-1 lead. The
infielder is hitting .358 (34-for-95) with eight homers and 34 RBI
in 26 games this month.Rodriguez hit a two-run homer, his 10th, off Edward Mujica to
make it 7-1 in the eighth.Lee fell to 0-4 this season and 3-5 in his career against
Detroit. The left-hander allowed five runs and 10 hits over 5 2-3
innings, striking out three without a walk. He is 1-4 with 9.00 ERA
over his last eight starts, allowing 60 hits over 46 2-3 innings."We had a chance to sweep the Tigers and the reason we didn't
is me," Lee said. "It's hard to win when you're giving up a run
almost every inning."
The Tigers have hit 110 homers at Jacobs Field, most by an
opponent since the park opened in 1994. ... Rogers is 16-16 with a
5.28 ERA in 55 career appearances, including 32 starts, against
Cleveland. He has pitched 233 2-3 innings against the Indians. ...
Martinez has hit .337 (29-for-86) with 14 RBI in 23 games in
August. ... Hafner went 1-for-3 and is hitting .500 (9-for-18) with
two homers and six RBI against Rogers this year. ... After the
game, Detroit optioned RHP Colby Lewis to Triple-A Toledo and OF
Brent Clevlen to Double-A Erie.