DETROIT -- Kenny Rogers slammed the ball off the rubber and it rose over his head just before he walked off the mound following an awful start.
A few hours after he left the field, what was left of the Detroit Tigers' AL Central lead was gone, too.
Rogers was roughed up Thursday by the Toronto Blue Jays, who built a seven-run lead before holding off Detroit for an 8-6 victory.
Minnesota rallied in the ninth inning and beat Kansas City 2-1 in 10 innings, leaving the Tigers and Twins tied atop the AL Central at 95-64 with three games left. Both teams are assured of playoff berths, and Detroit has the tiebreaker for the division title because it won the season series.
Detroit, which led the division by 10 games before play on Aug. 8, closes the regular season at home with a three-game series against the Royals. The Tigers are trying to finish first and get homefield advantage in the first round.
"I'm not going to give them a Knute Rockne, let's go get 'em type of thing. I can tell you that right now," manager Jim Leyland said. "If we win three games, we're the champs. That's one break we've got. If we can't take advantage of it, shame on us."
Rogers, who likely will start Detroit's first playoff game since 1987, gave up seven runs -- five earned -- on eight hits, a walk and a hit batter. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing in two months and one of the worst in what has been a stellar season.
"I'm not going to dwell on it too long. I've done pretty well for a long period of time," Rogers said. "I'd rather have a mediocre to poor one now rather than later."
The 41-year-old Rogers (17-7) won seven of his previous 10 starts with a 1.72 ERA and had a chance to match his career high for victories, but it was quickly clear that Thursday would not be his day.
Toronto's first two batters reached on errors, one by Rogers, to take a 2-0 lead. The Blue Jays added another run in the second and made it 7-0 in the fourth.
"He was mixing up his pitches like he usually does," said Gregg Zaun, who scored two runs and had two hits. "But he got some of them up, and fortunately we were able to hit them."
The Tigers pulled within a run with a three-run seventh, capped by Sean Casey's two-run homer, after scoring two runs in the sixth and one in the fourth.
Toronto went ahead 8-6 in the eighth on a double-play groundout.
When Leyland went to the mound to take the ball from Rogers, the pitcher bounced it in disgust and walked off the field.
It was the second straight poor outing by a Detroit starter that led to a loss. Nate Robertson allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings Wednesday night, when the Tigers lost 7-4.
"I'm not concerned, but that doesn't make any difference now because those are our guys and I'm very comfortable with them," Leyland said. "If they're good in the playoffs, we'll do OK. If they don't, we won't."
Toronto maintained its lead over the Boston Red Sox for second place in the AL East by winning the three-game series and 10 of its past 14 games.
Though the Blue Jays (85-74) were officially knocked out of the postseason picture Sept. 19, they are motivated to finish better than third for the first time since winning the World Series in 1992-93.
"It's a good sign that guys aren't quitting and resting on their numbers," Zaun said. "I would just like to look up at the end of the season and see Toronto under New York in the standings.
"For us to not quit and be thinking about the end of the season says a lot about these guys. I think there's a lot of pride in this locker room. It would be a nice consolation prize to finish second."
A.J. Burnett (10-8) did not give up a hit until Ivan Rodriguez led off the fourth with a single. He allowed five runs, five hits, two walks and hit two batters over 6 1/3 innings.
"All he does is give us more optimism," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "You hope he duplicates that next year. When he's getting his curveball over and spotting his fastball, he can get anyone out."
Three pitchers limited Detroit to a run, then B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 37th save.
Alex Rios led the Blue Jays offensively with two RBI, two hits and two runs.
|Jim Leyland takes the ball from Kenny Rogers, who gives up seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
New Era Detroit Tigers Hat
$27.95 Shop Now!
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|Alex Rios, RF||5||2||2||2||0||1||0||.300|
|Frank Catalanotto, LF||4||1||1||0||1||0||1||.305|
|Vernon Wells, CF||4||1||1||1||1||0||4||.303|
|Troy Glaus, 3B||5||0||1||1||0||2||2||.253|
|Bengie Molina, DH||5||0||1||1||0||1||2||.285|
|Aaron Hill, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.292|
|Gregg Zaun, C||3||2||2||0||0||0||0||.277|
|Jason Phillips, 1B||2||1||2||0||0||0||0||.293|
|a- Lyle Overbay, PH-1B||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||.312|
|John McDonald, SS||4||1||1||1||0||1||2||.213|
|a-lined out for Phillips in the 5th|
|2B - Alex Rios (31, Rogers), Bengie Molina (19, Rogers), Gregg Zaun (19, Maroth), John McDonald (7, Rogers)|
|RBI - Alex Rios 2 (79), Vernon Wells (106), Troy Glaus (103), Bengie Molina (57), John McDonald (22)|
|2-OUT RBI - Vernon Wells (36), Troy Glaus (24), Bengie Molina (20)|
|CS - Gregg Zaun (2, 3rd base by Rogers/Rodriguez), Jason Phillips (1, 3rd base by Rogers/Rodriguez)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Hill-McDonald-Overbay, Glaus-Hill-Overbay|
|E - Aaron Hill (18, Throwing), John McDonald (13, Throwing)|
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|A.J. Burnett (W,10-8)||6.1||5||5||5||2||8||0||3.98|
|Jason Frasor (H,12)||0.1||1||1||1||0||0||1||4.41|
|Brandon League (H,12)||1.1||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.53|
|B.J. Ryan (S,37)||1||1||0||0||0||1||0||1.39|
|HBP - Gomez (by A.J. Burnett), Casey (by A.J. Burnett)|
|Pitches-Strikes - A.J. Burnett 106-65, Jason Frasor 8-5, Scott Downs 7-3, Brandon League 9-6, B.J. Ryan 19-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - A.J. Burnett 6-5, Brandon League 2-1|
|Batters Faced - A.J. Burnett 28, Jason Frasor 2, Scott Downs 1, Brandon League 4, B.J. Ryan 4|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.262|
|a- Placido Polanco, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.298|
|Ivan Rodriguez, C||2||1||1||0||0||1||0||.297|
|Vance Wilson, C||2||1||2||1||0||0||0||.283|
|Sean Casey, 1B||3||2||2||2||0||0||0||.271|
|b- Marcus Thames, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.256|
|Matt Stairs, DH||2||0||0||0||1||1||2||.243|
|c- Magglio Ordonez, PH-DH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.294|
|Carlos Guillen, SS||2||0||0||0||0||1||3||.315|
|Omar Infante, 3B||2||0||1||1||0||0||1||.281|
|Craig Monroe, LF||3||0||0||2||0||0||0||.259|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.252|
|Ramon Santiago, SS||2||0||1||0||0||1||1||.225|
|Alexis Gomez, RF||2||1||0||0||1||1||2||.272|
|Neifi Perez, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||1||.243|
|a-lined out for Granderson in the 9th|
|b-struck out for Casey in the 9th|
|c-walked for Stairs in the 7th|
|2B - Omar Infante (11, Burnett)|
|HR - Sean Casey (8, Frasor)|
|SF - Vance Wilson (1), Craig Monroe (6)|
|RBI - Vance Wilson (18), Sean Casey 2 (59), Omar Infante (25), Craig Monroe 2 (92)|
|2-OUT RBI - Sean Casey 2 (17)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|DP - Santiago-Casey|
|E - Sean Casey (2, Missed catch of throw), Kenny Rogers (5, Throwing)|
|Kenny Rogers (L,17-7)||3.2||8||7||5||1||2||0||3.79|
|HBP - Zaun (by Kenny Rogers)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Kenny Rogers 70-45, Chad Durbin 28-20, Mike Maroth 22-13, Fernando Rodney 24-15|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kenny Rogers 5-4, Chad Durbin 2-4, Mike Maroth 2-1, Fernando Rodney 3-0|
|Batters Faced - Kenny Rogers 21, Chad Durbin 9, Mike Maroth 5, Fernando Rodney 6|
|Attendance - 28670|
|Game Time - 3:06|
|Temperature - 54|
|Umpires - Home - Marty Foster, First Base - Tim McClelland, Second Base - Field Culbreth, Third Base - Bill Welke|