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Detroit at Pittsburgh

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Detroit «3100005009131
Pittsburgh0000026008110

Shelton's long ball gives Tigers seventh straight series win

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- The Detroit Tigers did everything they could to give away a game they already had won. The Pittsburgh Pirates almost figured out how to win a game that seemed lost.

But when it came down to a ground ball that deflected off pitcher Todd Jones' glove, with the winner determined by which way it bounced, the Tigers showed why they have the majors' best record. And the Pirates again displayed why they have the NL's worst record.

Chris Shelton hit one of Detroit's two tape-measure home runs against the team that gave him away and the Tigers bounced back from one of their few ugly losses this season, holding on to beat the Pirates 9-8 Sunday.

"We were this close," Pirates manager Jim Tracy said, holding two fingers about an inch apart. "This close."

Shelton, Carlos Guillen and Craig Monroe drove in two runs each to help the Tigers open a 9-2 lead and take two of three from Pittsburgh, their seventh consecutive series win. They were coming off a 9-2 loss Saturday in which they committed errors on three consecutive infield plays during a seven-run Pirates seventh.

The Pirates lost for the 15th time in 17 games, while the Tigers won their 14th in 16.

"But, to be honest, I was concerned we might come in here and not win a game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "A team like that, they're going to get their share eventually and I didn't want it to be this weekend. This could have a tremendous sting right here this weekend."

The seventh inning Sunday was even wilder than Saturday's with the Tigers scoring five runs against Pittsburgh's usually reliable bullpen before the Pirates came back with six runs to get within a run.

"After we jumped out 9-2, a lot of teams would have shut it down but they didn't," the Tigers' Vance Wilson said.

Todd Jones finished up by pitching the ninth for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities, but not without a big scare. Pittsburgh loaded the bases with one out on Jason Bay's double and two walks, with Leyland ordering Freddy Sanchez be intentionally walked to put the potential winning run on base.

But Jose Castillo struck out and Humberto Cota grounded out on a ball that deflected off Jones' glove directly to second baseman Placido Polanco. If the ball had veered by even a foot, the Pirates likely would have scored twice and won.

"The ball wasn't too far from me," said Polanco, who was relieved the ball was deflected. "For sure, it made it an easier play. If that ball goes up the middle, you don't know if Carlos (Guillen, the shortstop) is going to be there."

Monroe's two-run double against Jonah Bayliss keyed the Tigers' seventh, which marked the only time in the series the Tigers scored past the fifth inning. Pinch-hitter Omar Infante started the seventh with the first of three Detroit doubles in the inning and Wilson added an RBI double three batters later against reliever John Grabow.

In bottom of the inning, the Pirates had runners on third and first with six runs already in before Castillo hit into an inning-ending double play. Before that, they turned a hit batter, two singles, a walk, reliever Fernando Rodney's run-scoring wild pitch and shortstop Guillen's error on a Sean Casey grounder into three runs ahead of Sanchez's second two-run double in as many innings. Pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino followed with a run-scoring single.

"We got a little careless, which you can't let happen," Leyland said.

Despite another seventh-inning letdown, the Tigers quickly proved there would be no carryover effect from Saturday's loss by jumping on Pirates starter Ian Snell (7-6) for three runs in the first. Guillen's two-run homer over the right field stands followed Magglio Ordonez's run-scoring double.

Guillen's drive, his 10th, was estimated at 449 feet, but was topped when Shelton led off the second with a 459-foot shot off the center field batter's backdrop. Shelton's homer was his 16th and second of the series against the team that failed to protect him for the Rule 5 draft at the 2003 winter meetings. Shelton had five hits and four RBI in the series.

The final score didn't indicate how well Tigers rookie starter Zach Miner (5-1) pitched in winning his fifth in a row. He retired the first 11 batters and didn't give up a hit until Sanchez singled leading off the fifth. Sanchez's 13-game hitting streak ended Saturday, but he came back with three hits Sunday to jump his average to .363.

Miner lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up two runs and six hits. Snell, losing his third in a row after winning five straight by allowing four runs and seven hits in five innings.

Notes

  • The Tigers finished 15-3 against the NL, easily their best record since interleague play began in 1997. The Pirates went 3-12 against the AL after going 5-7 last year.
  • The Pirates' Jose Hernandez, making a spot start at shortstop, left after four innings with tightness in his lower back.
  • Tigers starting pitchers are 16-2 over the last month.
  • The Pirates are 8-24 and the Tigers are 14-8 in one-run games.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Carlos Guillen drives in two runs on Sunday, both coming on this first-inning home run.  (AP)
Carlos Guillen drives in two runs on Sunday, both coming on this first-inning home run. (AP)

Players of the Game
Pittsburgh

F. Sanchez
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 4
Detroit

C. Shelton
AB 5
R 1
H 3
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF4010022
Placido Polanco, 2B5111002
Vance Wilson, C5221011
Magglio Ordonez, RF4121101
Carlos Guillen, SS3212201
Craig Monroe, LF4112001
    Fernando Rodney, P0000000
    Roman Colon, P0000000
    Joel Zumaya, P0000000
   a- Marcus Thames, PH0000100
    Todd Jones, P0000000
Chris Shelton, 1B5132000
Brandon Inge, 3B5010033
Zach Miner, P2000021
    Wil Ledezma, P0000000
   b- Omar Infante, PH1110000
    Alexis Gomez, LF0000100
Totals3891395812 
a-walked for Zumaya in the 9th
b-doubled for Ledezma in the 7th
Batting
2B - Vance Wilson (, Grabow), Magglio Ordonez (, Snell), Craig Monroe (, Bayliss), Brandon Inge (, Snell), Omar Infante (, Grabow)
HR - Carlos Guillen (, Snell), Chris Shelton (, Snell)
SH - Curtis Granderson ()
RBI - Placido Polanco (), Vance Wilson (), Magglio Ordonez (), Carlos Guillen 2 (), Craig Monroe 2 (), Chris Shelton 2 ()
2-OUT RBI - Magglio Ordonez (), Carlos Guillen 2 (), Craig Monroe 2 (), Chris Shelton ()
SB - Curtis Granderson (, 2nd base off Snell/Cota)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
DP - Polanco-Guillen-Shelton, Guillen-Polanco-Shelton
E - Carlos Guillen (, Misplayed grounder)
Detroit Tigers
Zach Miner (W,-) 5.2622150
Wil Ledezma (H,) 0.1000000
Fernando Rodney 0.1254110
Roman Colon (H,) 0.2211100
Joel Zumaya (H,) 1000120
Todd Jones (S,) 1100210
IBB - F. Sanchez by Todd Jones
HBP - Castillo (by Fernando Rodney)
WP - Roman Colon ()
Pitches-Strikes - Zach Miner 93-57, Wil Ledezma 2-1, Fernando Rodney 25-17, Roman Colon 12-8, Joel Zumaya 15-9, Todd Jones 25-13
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Zach Miner 6-5, Fernando Rodney 1-0, Roman Colon 1-0, Todd Jones 2-0
Batters Faced - Zach Miner 23, Wil Ledezma 1, Fernando Rodney 6, Roman Colon 4, Joel Zumaya 4, Todd Jones 6
Pittsburgh Pirates
Jose Bautista, CF5121011
Jose Hernandez, SS2000010
    Jack Wilson, SS3000015
Sean Casey, 1B4211100
Jason Bay, LF4220111
Freddy Sanchez, 3B4034100
Jeromy Burnitz, RF3000002
    Jonah Bayliss, P0000000
   a- Ronny Paulino, PH1011000
    Roberto Hernandez, P0000000
    Mike Gonzalez, P0000000
   b- Joe Randa, PH0000100
Jose Castillo, 2B4110014
Humberto Cota, C4110115
Ian Snell, P1000010
   c- Nate McLouth, PH1000012
    John Grabow, P0000000
    Craig Wilson, RF1100111
Totals3781176921 
a-singled for Bayliss in the 7th
b-walked for Gonzalez in the 9th
c-struck out for Snell in the 5th
Batting
2B - Jason Bay (, T. Jones), Freddy Sanchez 2 (, Miner, Colon)
RBI - Jose Bautista (), Sean Casey (), Freddy Sanchez 4 (), Ronny Paulino ()
2-OUT RBI - Freddy Sanchez 2 ()
Team LOB - 9
Fielding
DP - Hernandez-Castillo-Casey
Pittsburgh Pirates
Ian Snell (L,-) 5744252
John Grabow 1.2344110
Jonah Bayliss 0.1211010
Roberto Hernandez 1000110
Mike Gonzalez 1100100
WP - Ian Snell ()
Pitches-Strikes - Ian Snell 90-63, John Grabow 30-19, Jonah Bayliss 12-6, Roberto Hernandez 16-9, Mike Gonzalez 18-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ian Snell 8-1, John Grabow 1-3, Roberto Hernandez 1-1, Mike Gonzalez 1-2
Batters Faced - Ian Snell 23, John Grabow 9, Jonah Bayliss 3, Roberto Hernandez 4, Mike Gonzalez 5
Game Information
Attendance - 28136
Game Time - 3:17
Temperature - 84
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Charlie Reliford, Second Base - Paul Nauert, Third Base - Larry Vanover