Tigers 3, Rangers 1
DETROIT (AP)—Jason Johnson was thrilled with the way he pitched before a blister forced him out of the game.
“Yeah, it broke open late in the fifth, but before that I was finally able to go all out,” said Johnson, who hadn’t won since opening day. “This time wasn’t as bad, and it finally gave me a chance to show why this team went out and got me.”
Johnson (2-5) has been battling the blister problem since spring training, but stayed in long enough to win for the first time since beating Roy Halladay on April 5. He allowed one run on five hits, and struck out a season-best seven, one short of his career high.
“I wasn’t depressed, but I know I’m a better pitcher than I was showing,” Johnson said. “So this felt good.”
Detroit’s bullpen picked up where Johnson left off. Al Levine pitched two perfect innings, Esteban Yan allowed one hit in an inning, and Ugueth Urbina got three outs for his sixth save in as many chances.
“Our bullpen is very versatile right now,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “Ugie is our closer—everyone knows that—but we don’t have defined roles beyond that. When the guys are pitching this well, it gives me a lot of options.”
Ryan Drese (2-1) lost for the first time in six starts, giving up three runs on nine hits in 6 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked none.
The Rangers fell to 3-3 on their current road trip, but their 22-15 record is only two games short of the best 37-game start in franchise history.
“We just ran into a good performance today,” Texas manager Buck Showalter said. “They pitched well, and so did we, but we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we did get. Detroit got a couple big double plays that hurt us.”
The Tigers went ahead in the third on Infante’s second homer of the season— a solo shot to left.
Texas only got one runner into scoring position after the second inning.
“We didn’t deserve to win this game today,” Michael Young said. “Give Johnson credit—he pitched well and hit his spots—but we didn’t make any adjustments to what he was doing at all.”
The Tigers added an insurance run in the seventh when Greg Norton singled, moved to second on Inge’s sacrifice, took third on Infante’s infield hit and came home on Sanchez’s 15th bunt single of the season.
“I’ve never seen a better bunter,” Higginson said. “If I was an opposing manager, I wouldn’t be letting that bunt against me. But as his teammate, I hope they let him keep going.”
Showalter said the Rangers were waiting for the bunt, but still couldn’t make a play.
“I like him bunting in that situation, because it should give us an easy out at second,” he said. “Mark (Teixeira) just tried to catch the ball in theair and it got away from him.”
Detroit’s Carlos Pena, hitting .160 in his last 28 games, was on the bench Sunday as Norton made just his third start at first base. Pena, on pace for 188 strikeouts, entered as an eighth-inning defensive replacement. … Sanchez also had a bunt single in the third inning, but was caught stealing on the next pitch. Sanchez has been caught seven times in 15 attempts. … Rangersoutfielder David Dellucci (back) missed his fourth straight game.