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Archive for Saturday, May 8, 2004

Pudge’s return to Texas a big hit

Rodriguez’s two-run homer gives Tigers 8-7 victory over Rangers

May 8, 2004

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— Ivan Rodriguez helped the Texas Rangers win a lot of games and three division titles. Now, he's beating his former team.

Rodriguez hit a two-run, tiebreaking homer in his return to Texas, and the Detroit Tigers won, 8-7, Friday night to snap a four-game losing streak.

"It's good to win as many games as we can," Rodriguez said. "I know that we're here in Texas, but now we came from behind and played a good game and got the win."

The Tigers trailed 4-0 after the first six Texas hitters, but came back to tie it at 5 with a pair of homers.

Rodriguez, playing against the Rangers for the second time, broke that tie with his shot in the eighth off Jeff Nelson. It was his fifth homer of the season.

"Just to break the skid is most important," manager Alan Trammell said. "To do it the way we did after falling behind, it's not the way I scripted it."

Carlos Guillen went 3-for-4, including a three-run homer and RBI triple that proved to be the difference.

Rodriguez made his major league debut at age 19 for Texas, then was selected to 10 All-Star games and won 10 Gold Gloves.

He left the Rangers after not being offered a new contract or salary arbitration after the 2002 season. He won a World Series last season with Florida, one of three National League teams that played in Texas, then signed a $40 million, four-year contract with Detroit.

After Fernando Vina's one-out infield single in the eighth off Erasmo Ramirez (1-2), Rodriguez homered.

"He has a way of doing those kinds of things," Trammell said. "He's a great player. He comes through with big hits, big plays."

Rodriguez had been 3-for-32 -- all singles -- with 13 strikeouts in his career against Nelson, including 0-for-7 with four strikeouts in the postseason against the former Yankees pitcher.

"Things sometimes change," Rodriguez said. "He threw me a pitch over the plate and I hit a good one. He's had good success on me, but today was my day."

Nelson, trying to coax Rodriguez into a double-play grounder, was beat on a fastball.

"You have some success and you think he might be due, but you still go out and try to get him out," Nelson said. "It just didn't happen. It's frustrating."

Rondell White followed the homer with a single, and Guillen tripled.

Al Levine (3-2), the third Tigers pitcher, earned the win. Ugueth Urbina, another former Ranger, worked the ninth and allowed two runs before finishing for his third save in as many chances.

The Rangers made it close in the ninth when Vina couldn't handle Brad Fullmer's grounder, allowing Hank Blalock to score. David Dellucci made it 8-7 with an RBI single.

Angels 1, Devil Rays 0

Anaheim, Calif. -- John Lackey pitched a three-hitter to outduel Mark Hendrickson, and David Eckstein had an RBI single to help Anaheim beat Tampa Bay, extending its winning streak to seven games.

Lackey (3-3) went the distance for the fourth time in 57 career starts, striking out three and walking one. He threw 107 pitches, 73 for strikes in his third shutout.

The three-year veteran retired 16 straight batters, starting with designated hitter Midre Cummings, who flied out to center after the Devil Rays loaded the bases with two outs in the third, and ended when Carl Crawford singled to lead off the ninth.

Mariners 6, Yankees 2

Seattle -- Edgar Martinez hit a two-run homer and drove in two more runs with his 500th career double, leading Seattle over New York. Martinez received a loud standing ovation as he stood at second in the first inning after he became the 39th player since 1900 to hit 500 doubles

Blue Jays 5, White Sox 4

Toronto -- Reed Johnson hit a game-winning RBI single in the ninth inning, giving Toronto a victory over Chicago. Terry Adams (3-1) pitched the ninth for the win, and Hudson and Eric Hinske each hit two-run homers off Jon Garland in the sixth inning. With the game tied at 4, Orlando Hudson led off the ninth with a walk against reliever Cliff Politte (0-1), advanced to second on Chris Gomez's groundout and scored on Johnson's hit down the right-field line.

Orioles 3, Indians 2, 10 innings

Baltimore -- Larry Bigbie homered off Chad Durbin leading off the 10th inning, giving Baltimore a victory over Cleveland. Rafael Palmeiro also homered for the Orioles, who won for only the fourth time in 11 games.

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