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Rogers, Tigers even Series at one; questions swirl over substance

DETROIT (AP) -- Was it dirt? A smudge from a resin bag? A magic
elixir?

Don't ask the St. Louis Cardinals what that stuff was on
Kenny Rogers' pitching hand.

They didn't get a good look at it, and even when he wiped it
off, they still barely hit the baseballs he was throwing.

Virtually untouchable this October, Rogers smothered the
Cardinals on two hits over eight shutout innings, leading Detroit
to a 3-1 victory on a chilly Sunday night that tied the World
Series at one game apiece.

Rogers figured in a first-inning flap regarding something
noticeable on his pitching hand. It appeared to be something dirty
or dark, and umpires brought Cardinals manager Tony La Russa out to
the field at the end of the first for a brief discussion.

"It was a big clump of dirt, and I wiped it off," Rogers said.
"I didn't know it was there, and they told me and I took it off,
and it wasn't a big deal."

Maybe not to him. But certainly to most others.

"It's not important to talk about," La Russa said tersely to
reporters.

But according to Tigers manager Jim Leyland -- La Russa's good
buddy -- La Russa discussed it with the umps.

"I know Tony said, 'Hey, I don't want to make any issue here,
but a couple of my players are saying that the ball is acting a
little funny,'" Leyland said. "And obviously they were a little
suspicious."

Leyland, who talked to three umps near the third-base line in
the middle of the second, joked about the fuss.

"He was pretty clean the rest of the way," Leyland said.

Steve Palermo, one of baseball's umpire supervisors, said plate
ump Alfonzo Marquez noticed the dirt and asked Rogers to clean up.
Palermo brushed off thoughts of any nefarious plot.

"Dirt is not a foreign substance," Palermo said. "That's what
we play on. That's the playing surface."

Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, without accusing Rogers,
noted that St. Louis reliever Julian Tavarez was suspended when
pine tar was detected on his cap in 2004.

"There were guys upstairs watching TV and they came down and
said it was on TV," Duncan said. "Any time you get a better grip
on the ball, you're going to increase the velocity of the spin on
the ball, whether you're throwing a curveball, sinker, slider,
whatever it is. It would have more bite."

Cardinals second baseman Aaron Miles also brought up pine tar.

"Somebody said they thought they saw pine tar on him. That's
about it," he said. "Whether he got rid of it, or he never had it
in the first place, we don't know. His stuff was good all game."

Rogers extended his scoreless streak to 23 postseason innings
this year and 24 1/3 postseason innings overall, a streak that
began in 2003 with Minnesota. It is the longest streak since
Curt Schilling tossed 25 scoreless innings in 1993 and 2001.

Rogers became only the second pitcher to have three scoreless
starts in a single postseason. Christy Mathewson had three
complete-game shutouts (27 innings) for the Philadelphia Athletics
in the 1905 World Series.

"I'm no Christy Mathewson, that's for sure," Rogers said.

Rogers struck out five and walked three, improving to 3-0 in
this postseason. He was 0-3 with an 8.85 ERA in the postseason
before this year, and credited his turnaround to his Game 3 start
against the New York Yankees in the first round.

"With any athlete I think the longer you fail at something, the
harder it is to turn that corner," Rogers said. "Without a doubt
I believe going out there and having success against that Yankee
team was huge for me, huge for my confidence."

Todd Jones came on in the ninth and allowed Scott Rolen's
two-out single, then misplayed Juan Encarnacion's comebacker for an
error that put runners on the corners.

"I just missed it. It's embarrassing," Jones said. "I'm going
to have 7,000 messages from every coach who ever coached me about
that."

Jim Edmonds blooped a double down the left-field line that
scored Rolen, and Jones hit Preston Wilson with a pitch, loading
the bases.

After a visit from pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Jones retired
Yadier Molina on a forceout, preserving the shaky save and
completing a four-hitter.

"He's going to take a little PFP -- that's pitchers' fielding
practice -- before he gets on the bus tonight," Leyland joked.

Craig Monroe got the Tigers started by homering for the second
straight night, a solo shot off Jeff Weaver in a two-run first, and
Carlos Guillen and Sean Casey also drove in runs for Detroit.
Guillen had three hits falling a home run short of the cycle.

"I'm shocked sometimes of myself," Monroe said. "I'm relaxed
and having fun. I think that's the big thing. I'm not getting
caught up in all the things that are going on around me."

Rogers allowed an infield single by Rolen in the first that
third baseman Brandon Inge could only knock down. He didn't give up
another hit until Molina singled to right leading off the eighth.

In a battle of starters who flopped with the Yankees, Weaver
allowed at least two runners in every inning. He left after five,
having allowed three runs and nine hits.

"I made one bad pitch to Monroe, a cutter down the middle that
he didn't miss," Weaver said. "Other than that, I felt good. Just
a lot of balls that bled in."

One night after St. Louis got the National League's first Series
win since 2003, Detroit made sure one record won't fall this year:
There have never been three straight Series sweeps.

Following a travel day, the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis hosts
its first Series game Tuesday night, with Cardinals ace
Chris Carpenter pitching against Nate Robertson.

Monroe gave Detroit a quick lead, hitting Weaver's sixth pitch
into the seats in left-center for his second homer in the Series
and his fifth in the postseason, tying Hank Greenberg's Tigers
career record. One out later, Magglio Ordonez singled, and Guillen
doubled him home with a drive to left, a drive that short-hopped
the wall

Guillen tripled down the right-field line in the fifth --
Encarnacion, a former Tiger, had trouble coming up with the ball --
and Casey singled him home with two outs.

Known as The Gambler, Rogers pitched with as much electricity as
the Las Vegas Strip. He spun off the mound when he walked
Scott Spiezio, and made huge hops over the World Series logo when he
walked from the mound back to the Tigers dugout on the third-base
side. The 41-year-old pumped his arm and snapped his head when
David Eckstein hit into a double-play grounder that ended the
eighth.

"It makes me nervous to see someone that pumped up," Leyland
said.

Game Notes
Schilling compiled his scoreless streak in 1993 with
Philadelphia and 2001 with Arizona. ... The Tigers were 1-for-9
with runners in scoring position. ... St. Louis was 23-24 against
southpaws during the regular season and had trouble against the
Mets' Tom Glavine and Oliver Perez in the NL Championship Series.