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Next loss would give Detroit consecutive 0-9 starts

4/11/2003

DETROIT (AP) -- The Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers are both finding it hard to believe what has happened to them in the first 10 days of the season.

The Royals extended their winning streak to seven games to start
the season, getting a homer and three RBI from Raul Ibanez in a
4-2 victory over the winless Tigers on Thursday.

"This is a lot of fun,'' Ibanez said. "It is still early, so things are magnified if you are doing well or doing poorly, but when you can string a bunch of victories together like this, you are definitely going to enjoy it.''

Miguel Asencio (1-0) allowed one unearned run in five innings
for the Royals, who remained the only undefeated team in baseball
and extended their team record for the best start to a season.

"I didn't want to be the first one to lose,'' Asencio said. "Everyone played together today, and that's all we are doing this year. We stay together and we never let our heads get down.''

The Tigers (0-8) matched the 1962-63 New York Mets as the only
teams to lose their first eight games in back-to-back seasons. A
loss Friday against the White Sox would make Detroit the only team
with consecutive 0-9 starts. The Tigers went 0-11 last year.

"We knew we had some work to do, but this is not what we
expected,'' rookie Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "Obviously,
we want to get a win, but we aren't going to pack our tent because
we are 0-8. We're just going to deal with it and try again tomorrow.''

The attendance was just 9,080 _ the second smallest in the
four-year history of Comerica Park.

Asencio allowed six hits and three walks, and was able to escape
several jams.

"I got a lot of guys on base, but I was able to get out of
it,'' he said. "That was nice.''

D.J. Carrasco pitched three shutout innings in relief of
Asencio, striking out six straight batters in one stretch, and Mike
MacDougal got three outs for his fifth save in five chances. He
allowed one unearned run on his own error covering first base.

Mike Maroth (0-3) remained winless despite his second quality
start of the season. He gave up two runs, five hits and one walk in
seven innings.

"This is really tough,'' Maroth said. "I was very positive
today -- I just had a great feeling about this one. I thought we
could build on our comeback yesterday, but it didn't happen. We
just have to focus on the positives -- our pitching has been pretty
good and no one has talked about how well our defense is playing.
Our hitting is going to come around -- the guys can't keep hitting like this.''

Detroit took just its second lead of the season with a run in the first. Bobby Higginson led off with a single, took second on Carlos Pena's base hit and scored when second baseman Carlos Febles misplayed an apparent inning-ending double-play grounder for an error.

Dean Palmer followed with a grounder to first, and Mendy Lopez
threw out Pena at the plate, allowing Asencio to escape the inning
with only one run.

"We absolutely needed more than one run there,'' Trammell said.
"That would have made things a lot more comfortable for us.''

Kansas City only managed one hit in the first five innings, but got to Maroth for two runs in the sixth. With one out, Joe Randa and Mike Sweeney singled, and Ibanez followed with an RBI single off Pena's glove at first.

Sweeney took third on Ibanez's single and scored on a wild pitch by Maroth.

Ibanez added a two-run homer off Jamie Walker in the seventh.

Game notes
Febles' first-inning error was just the second by the Royals this season and ended a four-game streak without a misplay.
Kansas City made four errors in the game. ... Higginson's run was
the first scored by Detroit in the first inning all season. ...
Ibanez has 11 hits in his last six games. ... Maroth and Greg
Maddux are the only pitchers with three losses this season.