Series: Game 2 of 3

Series tied 1-1 (as of 4/14)

Game 1: Tuesday, April 13
Game 2: Wednesday, April 14
Game 3: Thursday, April 15

Blue Jays 3

(2-6, 2-3 away)

Tigers 5

(6-2, 3-2 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 14, 2004

    Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan 

    123456789 R H E
    TOR 000020010 3 9 0
    DET 40000100 - 5 8 1

    W: N. Robertson (1-0)

    L: T. Lilly (0-1)

    S: D. Patterson (1)

    Patterson gets save

    DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers are off to a historic start one season after being one of the worst teams in baseball history.

    Carlos Pena hit a two-run double in a four-run first inning, and Detroit held on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-3 Wednesday night.

    The Tigers have won six of their first eight games, one season after beginning 0-9 and finishing with an AL-record 119 losses.

    They are off to the best eight-game start of any team coming off a 110-loss season since 1900, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. There are just 14 teams to achieve the dubious feat.

    "This is fun," Craig Monroe said. "We believe we have a chance to win every day. When I wake up, I can't wait to get out to the yard."

    Detroit has scored at least five runs in each of its opening eight games for the first time, eclipsing the six in a row at the start of the 1961 season.

    And the Tigers, off to their best start since 1985, have scored 23 of their 51 runs with two outs.

    "You don't feel like you have to go out there and throw a shutout," said Nate Robertson, who earned the win. "I have all the confidence in the world in the offense we have."

    Rondell White, one of several newcomers along with Ivan Rodriguez, set his sights on the AL Central title in March.

    Some laughed, but he's still smiling.

    "It's great because we've got respect and a lot of people have to shut up now," White said. "We've got everything we need to win. There's no easy outs in our lineup, our pitching has been great and our defense has been unbelievable.

    "We've still got a long way to go this season, but we really feel like we can win the Central."

    Toronto manager Carlos Tosca, who has seen Detroit beat his team four times, is impressed with the new-look Tigers put together by general manager Dave Dombrowski.

    "There're a much-improved team and it's all about having players," he said. "Dave Dombrowski brought in players who not only are good, but they're winning players."

    After the Tigers took an early 4-0 lead, they had to hold on for the win.

    Vernon Wells singled off Esteban Yan and scored on an error as Toronto closed within two runs in the eighth. Jamie Walker relieved and gave up a single and a wild pitch before getting out of the inning by striking out Kevin Cash and getting Orlando Hudson to ground out.

    Danny Patterson pitched the ninth for his first save. Toronto threatened in the ninth, getting singles from pinch-hitter Greg Myers and Frank Catalanotto before Wells grounded into a game-ending double play.

    Robertson (1-0) gave up two runs and three hits over five innings in his first start of the season, the 10th of his career. He struck out seven and walked three. The 26-year-old left-hander pitched 10-plus scoreless innings before Reed Johnson's two-run homer in the fifth.

    "He's very determined to prove he can pitch at this level," Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "And so far, so good."

    Robertson started in place of Nate Cornejo, suspended by the commissioner's office for intentionally hitting Philadelphia's Ricky Ledee with a pitch during spring training.

    Ted Lilly (0-1) gave up four runs and five hits in five innings. Lilly, who struck out four and walked three, settled down after the Tigers roughed him up in the first.

    With the bases loaded, Monroe hit a sacrifice fly to the warning track. Pena followed with a double off the wall, and Bobby Higginson hit an RBI single.

    Lilly retired the side the next three innings before giving up two hits in the fifth. With two on and two outs, third baseman Eric Hinske made a diving stop and throw to get Lilly out of the jam.

    "I'm not at all happy about anything I did," Lilly said.

    Higginson's sacrifice fly off Valerio De Los Santos in the sixth put the Tigers ahead 5-2 after Pena hit a leadoff triple.

    Game notes

    The game drew 15,129 fans one day after the smallest crowd (8,804) in Comerica Park's five-year history showed up on a chilly night. ... On April 6, Robertson earned his first save after striking out seven Blue Jays over four scoreless innings. He may end up being Detroit's No. 5 starter, but Trammell would only say he'll pitch Monday at Cleveland. ... Lilly gave up four runs on five hits over 5 1-3 innings in his first start, a loss at Boston. He signed a $5 million, two-year deal in January.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press