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Tigers maintain AL Central lead with 4-3 win over Blue Jays

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- Placido Polanco gave the Detroit Tigers another reason to be thrilled that he's healthy enough to play with the postseason just a week away.

Polanco drove in three runs, Jeremy Bonderman pitched six solid innings and Detroit held off the Toronto Blue Jays for a 4-3 victory Tuesday night, keeping its lead in the AL Central.

The solid second baseman, who is a contact hitter on a free-swinging team, was out for more than a month with a separated left shoulder.

"It feels really good to be back and to help the team win," Polanco said. "These are important games because we're trying to win the division and get the home-field advantage."

Detroit (95-62) maintained its one-game lead over the Minnesota Twins, who beat Kansas City 3-2. The Tigers in essence have a two-game lead because they won the season series against Minnesota and would win the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record Sunday.

"We're going to have to win more games because (the Twins) are winning, too, so we have to keep it going," said Todd Jones, who pitched the ninth for his 37th save.

The Tigers, who have won eight of 11 after a prolonged slump, remained tied with the Yankees, who beat Baltimore 5-4, for the AL's best record (95-62). Detroit clinched a spot in the playoffs -- for the first time in 19 years -- on Sunday.

Polanco hit a two-run, two-out single in the second inning and his squeeze bunt in the sixth gave the Tigers a 4-1 lead. He is hitting .394 with runners in scoring position.

"He's a versatile player," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He got a big hit and got the squeeze down."

Leyland acknowledged he does not like squeeze bunts, but the savvy manager wanted to give scouts something unexpected to jot down in their notebooks.

"This time of year, we're being watched by Oakland, the Yankees, Minnesota and the National League," he said. "So anything you can throw out there that they have to put down to be aware of is to your advantage."

The Blue Jays pulled within 4-3 in the seventh on Frank Catalanotto's single and Alex Rios' run on a passed ball.

"There are not going to be any easy games, but it's nice to know you're in (the playoffs) for sure," Leyland said.

Bonderman (14-8) gave up an unearned run, three hits and three walks while striking out four, becoming the first Detroit pitcher since Jack Morris in 1987 to reach 200 strikeouts.

He won his third straight start after going 0-4 in his previous nine.

"Hopefully, that gives him some confidence because we're going to need him in the playoffs," Jones said.

Leyland said he might rest Bonderman on Sunday in the regular-season finale to get him ready for the postseason. Leyland said he plans to skip Justin Verlander's start Saturday to give him a break and set up his rotation.

Rookies Andrew Miller and Joel Zumaya combined to pitch the seventh with Miller giving up a run on a walk and Zumaya giving up an unearned run on the passed ball. Fernando Rodney pitched the eighth, giving up a walk and single.

The Blue Jays (83-74) had won eight of 11, improving their hopes of finishing higher than third in the AL East for the first time since winning the World Series in 1992-93.

With Toronto's loss and Boston's win, the Red Sox moved a half-game ahead of the Blue Jays for second in the division.

"We've got a battle for the next five days with Boston," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Being in second place was short-lived, obviously, and we hated to relinquish that. Boston's tough at home and playing two teams they've beaten up this year, but we've got five days to get it back from them."

Dustin McGowan (1-2) gave up two runs -- both unearned -- two hits and a walk over two innings in his second start of the season. McGowan, who has 12 relief appearances, made his previous start on July 29.

Notes

  • Detroit OF Magglio Ordonez was replaced in the top of the third inning because of spasms in his lower back. "I think he'll be fine," Leyland said.
  • Detroit hopes OF Marcus Thames can play Wednesday. "He's sick with a fever and a sore throat," Leyland said.
  • Toronto OF Reed Johnson (leg) was out of the lineup, but was used as a pinch hitter in the seventh and struck out.
  • Bonderman has pitched six innings in each of his last three starts.
 
Copyright 2015 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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Jeremy Bonderman helps the Tigers stay a game ahead of the Twins in the AL Central.  (Getty Images)
Jeremy Bonderman helps the Tigers stay a game ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. (Getty Images)

Players of the Game
Toronto

F. Catalanotto
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 0
RBI 1
Detroit

P. Polanco
AB 2
R 0
H 1
HR 0
RBI 3
 

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Toronto Blue Jays
Alex Rios, RF4110111 .297
Frank Catalanotto, LF4111001 .306
    John McDonald, SS0000000 .212
   a- Bengie Molina, PH1000001 .285
Vernon Wells, CF3010101 .306
Lyle Overbay, 1B3000111 .312
Gregg Zaun, C2001110 .263
Aaron Hill, SS-2B3010103 .290
Adam Lind, DH3010113 .357
John Hattig, 3B3110011 .368
   b- Troy Glaus, PH-3B1000002 .251
Russ Adams, 2B2000001 .222
   c- Reed Johnson, PH-LF2000021 .322
Totals313626716 
a-grounded into a double play for McDonald in the 9th
b-grounded out for Hattig in the 8th
c-struck out for R. Adams in the 7th
Batting
2B - Vernon Wells (39, Bonderman)
SF - Gregg Zaun (5)
RBI - Frank Catalanotto (56), Gregg Zaun (39)
2-OUT RBI - Frank Catalanotto (18)
Team LOB - 8
Fielding
E - Aaron Hill (17, )
Toronto Blue Jays
Dustin McGowan (L,1-2) 2220110 7.66
Davis Romero 3.1422230 3.86
Jeremy Accardo 0.2100000 4.86
Brian Tallet 1000010 3.98
Brandon League 1000000 2.43
IBB - Casey by Davis Romero
Pitches-Strikes - Dustin McGowan 44-26, Davis Romero 56-35, Jeremy Accardo 9-5, Brian Tallet 11-7, Brandon League 7-6
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Dustin McGowan 3-3, Davis Romero 4-3, Jeremy Accardo 1-1, Brian Tallet 1-1, Brandon League 3-0
Batters Faced - Dustin McGowan 10, Davis Romero 16, Jeremy Accardo 3, Brian Tallet 3, Brandon League 3
Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF4010003 .264
Ivan Rodriguez, C4010001 .293
Sean Casey, 1B2010110 .269
   a- Chris Shelton, PH-1B1000011 .276
Magglio Ordonez, RF1000000 .296
    Alexis Gomez, RF-LF3000004 .277
Carlos Guillen, SS3210102 .317
Matt Stairs, DH2110010 .245
   b- Omar Infante, PH-DH2000011 .281
Craig Monroe, LF3100102 .258
    Brent Clevlen, RF0000000 .282
Brandon Inge, 3B4011000 .253
Placido Polanco, 2B2013010 .299
Totals314743514 
a-struck out for Casey in the 7th
b-struck out for Stairs in the 6th
Batting
SH - Placido Polanco (8)
RBI - Brandon Inge (81), Placido Polanco 3 (49)
2-OUT RBI - Placido Polanco 2 (16)
SB - Carlos Guillen (20, 3rd base off Romero/Zaun), Craig Monroe (2, 2nd base off Romero/Zaun)
Team LOB - 7
Fielding
DP - Guillen-Casey, Guillen-Polanco-Shelton
PB - Ivan Rodriguez (4)
E - Sean Casey (1, )
Detroit Tigers
Jeremy Bonderman (W,14-8) 6310340 3.99
Andrew Miller (H,1) 0.1011100 4.70
Joel Zumaya (H,29) 0.2110110 1.94
Fernando Rodney (H,17) 1100110 3.39
Todd Jones (S,37) 1100010 4.03
Pitches-Strikes - Jeremy Bonderman 102-57, Andrew Miller 12-5, Joel Zumaya 21-13, Fernando Rodney 20-13, Todd Jones 12-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeremy Bonderman 8-6, Andrew Miller 1-0, Fernando Rodney 1-1, Todd Jones 1-0
Batters Faced - Jeremy Bonderman 24, Andrew Miller 2, Joel Zumaya 4, Fernando Rodney 5, Todd Jones 3
Game Information
Attendance - 27908
Game Time - 2:56
Temperature - 64
Umpires - Home - Field Culbreth, First Base - Bill Welke, Second Base - Marty Foster, Third Base - Tim McClelland