SEATTLE -- Jeremy Bonderman now knows how to pitch. That's why he came within one out of a shutout Friday night and hasn't allowed more than two runs in any of his last seven starts for the Detroit Tigers.
"Well, maybe not knowing. Thinking I know what I'm doing," the soft-spoken Bonderman said.
"I don't know. It's working."
Ask the baffled Mariners. Bonderman allowed three hits before three ninth-inning singles prevented him from earning his first shutout of the season in the Tigers' 6-1 win over Seattle.
Bonderman's nasty sliders, Craig Monroe's long home run and three hits from Magglio Ordonez hours after he was added to the AL All-Star team as an injury replacement helped the team with baseball's best record send the Mariners to their fifth consecutive loss.
Detroit moved to 58-28. Yes, manager Jim Leyland is glad he ended his six-year managing hiatus to lead a team with 90-loss seasons in seven of the last eight years to the top of the major leagues.
"You can't be much happier than I am," Leyland said, chomping on a postgame steak. "There's a long way to go, but no matter how this turns out, I'm going to be glad I came back.
"We're 30 games over. If you can't be happy about that, you shouldn't be managing."
Seattle avoided being blanked for the 11th time this season when Raul Ibanez's RBI single with two outs in the ninth chased Bonderman (8-4). With runners at first and second, Joel Zumaya struck out Richie Sexson on a 100 mph fastball to end it.
The Mariners have managed only one run in the past two games.
"We are obviously getting good pitching thrown at us," manager Mike Hargrove said.
Obviously. But at least Seattle doesn't have to face Bonderman again this weekend.
Leyland is most pleased that Bonderman is fulfilling the potential the Tigers saw in him when they traded Jeff Weaver in a 2002 three-team deal for Oakland's 2001 first-round draft choice.
"No question about that," Leyland said, adding Bonderman and fellow young Tigers starters Nate Robertson and Mike Maroth "have taken leaps and bounds.
"It hasn't been something gradual. Boom -- they've just taken off."
So has Bonderman's slider, which left Seattle All-Star Jose Lopez marveling.
"He didn't care if it was 2-2 or 3-2, he'd throw a slider," Lopez said.
And he had two hits.
"His slider was just disappearing out of the zone," Zumaya said. "I don't know how hitters see it. Then he's got that power and his changeup? No chance."
Bonderman, from Pasco, Wash., has 111 strikeouts this season, the most by a Tigers pitcher before the All-Star break since Hideo Nomo had 111 in the first half of 2000. Bonderman had just four on Friday, but he walked none in 8 2-3 innings and hasn't lost since May 29.
Detroit ran its way to its first two runs. Curtis Granderson led off the game with a walk from Joel Pineiro (6-8). Granderson then stole second without a throw and scored with two outs on Ordonez's first single.
In the fifth inning, Chris Shelton singled. The first baseman then stole his first base of the season, advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Granderson's sacrifice fly when center field Shin-Soo Choo's throw was early, but way up the third-base line.
Monroe made it 3-0 with his 13th home run, a stunning shot four rows up into the second deck in left field leading off the seventh.
"When you hit it like that, you can't feel them," Monroe said.
Former Mariner Carlos Guillen extended his hitting streak to 10 games in the eighth with a two-out single that scored Placido Polanco with the fourth run. Pineiro then departed, having allowed 10 hits. His fifth and sixth earned runs were charged to him when reliever Julio Mateo allowed Marcus Thames' two-run double.
Seattle's lone highlight came when All-Star Ichiro Suzuki threw out Ordonez trying to score on Monroe's line drive in the fourth. Suzuki's throw from medium-deep right field to catcher Kenji Johjima on a fly was so early, Ordonez didn't bother to run to home plate. Instead, Ordonez ran toward the backstop and was called out for being out of the base line.
"That's why the guy's been to the All-Star game five or six times," Leyland said. "He's a total player."
It was Suzuki's seventh outfield assist this season, tied for the AL lead. Four of those have been at home plate, and three of those runners have been Tigers.
- In 27 games since June 8, Detroit starters are 17-1 with a 2.83 ERA. "It's beyond what anybody expected," Leyland said.
- Ordonez's three hits came after an 0-for-10 skid.
- Seattle called up RHP Mark Lowe from Double-A San Antonio. Lowe, the team's fifth-round draft pick in 2004, entered in the ninth and immediately loaded the bases. He then struck out Polanco, got Ivan Rodriguez to hit into a force play at home, and struck out Ordonez on a slider.