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Archive for Friday, July 26, 2002

Fick powers Tigers past Royals, 5-2

July 26, 2002

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— Robert Fick's timing was perfect for the Detroit Tigers.

Fick hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the sixth inning and added a two-run homer as the Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals 5-2 Thursday for a three-game sweep.






When: 7:05 tonight.Where: Comiskey Park.Television: Channel 29 (cable channel 17).Pitchers: Shawn Sedlacek (1-0) vs. Danny Wright (6-8).KC record: 43-58.

Fick, the Tigers' representative in the All-Star game, also made a key defensive play in right field to preserve their edge.

The Royals entered the series having won 10 of 11 games, while the Tigers had lost six in a row.

"They came in here as the hottest team in baseball, and we weren't playing very well," Fick said. "It's been a terrible season, but we are going to keep playing hard so that they want us back next year."

With the Royals trailing 3-2 in the eighth, Carlos Beltran tripled with one out, Joe Randa walked and Raul Ibanez hit a line drive that Fick caught. But before Beltran could tag up and score, Fick doubled Randa off first base.

"I'm sure Joe figured that he was going to score, because he had a pretty good lead and the ball was hit right over his head," Fick said. "But it was hit hard and I got a really good jump. After that, it was just an easy throw to first. You don't expect that from a great player like Joe Randa."

Randa was furious with himself over the error.

"I thought the ball was going to sink and I was thinking first and third," he said. "Before I knew it, it was in his glove. It was a bad decision on my part and a bad time of the game to do it. I cost my teammate an RBI at a crucial time. It was embarrassing and it will never happen again."

Fick hit his 12th homer in the bottom of the eighth off Scott Mullen.

Damion Easley and Randall Simon homered in the opening inning for the Tigers.

The game took 2 hours, 38 minutes. A day earlier, Jose Lima and Detroit beat the Royals 3-0 in 1 hour, 41 minutes, the fastest nine-inning game since 1984.

Rookie Mike Maroth (3-3) picked up the win, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk in six innings.

"I tried to keep the pace up to where Jose had it, but 1:41 is tough," Maroth said. "I'm just glad we were able to keep the momentum going as we head on the road."

Maroth, who struck out six, has gone 2-0 in his last three starts after going winless for nearly a month. He did not get a single flyout in the game.

"I didn't even realize that, but it shows how well my sinker was working," he said. "I was able to keep the ball down, even though I didn't feel that comfortable out there. That's a good sign."

Three Tigers relievers finished, with Juan Acevedo pitching the ninth for his 18th save in 21 tries.

Miguel Asencio (2-3) took the loss, giving up three runs in five-plus innings.

"We played a very nice game today, and it was good to get the sweep," Tigers manager Luis Pujols said. "It was nice to regroup a little before we go out on a long trip."

After the Royals got two runs in the sixth to break a 16-inning scoreless streak, the Tigers took the lead in the bottom half.

Bobby Higginson drew a leadoff walk and took third on Simon's single. Ryan Bukvich relieved and Fick greeted him with a flyball to deep right-center for a 3-2 lead.

The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. Easley hit his fifth homer deep into the left-field stands and one out later, Simon hit his second home run in as many days.

Kansas City's best early scoring chance came when Randa tripled with one out in the fourth, but Maroth struck out Ibanez before Chan Perry grounded out to end the inning.

Detroit nearly scored in the sixth, but were stopped by a spectacular defensive play. With two out and a runner on second, Easley hit a grounder up the middle. Second baseman Carlos Febles got to the ball while heading for left field, but managed to flip it to shortstop Neifi Perez, who threw to first in time to retire Easley.

"You have to give Carlos the credit he's the one who made the play," Perez said. "We don't practice anything like that."

Kansas City tied it in the sixth. Chuck Knoblauch led off with a single off the glove of third baseman Craig Paquette, took second on Randa's single and scored on Ibanez's single. Randa moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on Chan Perry's groundout.

Notes: Tigers C Brandon Inge threw out Perez stealing in the second inning just the fifth runner he has retired in 35 tries. Last season, Inge threw out 42 percent, but has had chronic shoulder problems since a home-plate collision last year. ... Former University of Detroit and Detroit Pistons coach and current ESPN announcer Dick Vitale did the eighth-inning tribute to retiring Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell. There will be a taped tribute played on the scoreboard after the seventh inning of every home game. ... RHP Zack Greinke, the Royals' top pick in the June draft, started his throwing program on Thursday after signing a $2.5 million contract on July 12.

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