Tigers 12, Indians 5

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DETROIT (AP)—By May 31, Ivan Rodriguez already had won the respect of his new teammates. A month later, he has them wondering if he’s too good to be true.

Rodriguez had three hits Wednesday, giving him a .500 average for June, and the Detroit Tigers won their sixth in a row, defeating the Cleveland Indians 12-5.

“Those are PlayStation or Xbox numbers,” Rondell White said. “I’ve played with some great players, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Detroit (37-39) overcame a three-run deficit to post its longest winning streak since the Tigers took six straight in May 2002. Last year, when the Tigers set an AL record with 119 losses, they didn’t get their 37th win until Sept. 4.

“We’re playing very well right now,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “We came from behind tonight, which was big.”

Dmitri Young and Carlos Pena homered for Detroit, which won its previous three on game-ending home runs.

Rodriguez went 43-for-86 in June to became the first major leaguer to hit .500 for a month since Colorado’s Todd Helton in May 2000.

“That’s just an amazing month,” Trammell said. “He’s an elite player, but that’s still an unheard-of accomplishment.”

Rodriguez, who leads the AL with a .381 average, is the first player in Tigers’ history to hit over .450 in a month.

“A lot of great players have gone to the Hall of Fame after playing here, so I’m very pleased to be the only one to do this,” he said. “I’m not doing anything different—I’m just seeing the ball really well. I had a great month, but tomorrow is July 1, and I’ve got to start again.”

Nate Robertson (7-3) improved to 5-0 in his last eight starts, striking out eight while allowing three runs in seven innings. Mike Maroth was the only Tigers pitcher to win seven games last year, and didn’t reach that total until Sept. 12.

Jason Davis (2-6) dropped to 1-3 in his last five starts, allowing seven runs and 12 hits in 5 1-3 innings. He dropped to 0-3 with a 9.19 ERA against the Tigers this season.

“I left some sliders and splitters up, and they did some damage with those pitches,” Davis said. “But they hit some good pitches, too.”

Matt Lawton’s RBI single and Lou Merloni’s two-run single put Cleveland ahead 3-0 in the third, but the Tigers tied it in the bottom half on Rodriguez’s two-run, 420-foot double to center and Young’s solo homer.

“We scored three runs, and Jason has to go out there and shut them down,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “But he seemed to lose his command in that inning, and he never got it back.”

Omar Infante hit a go-ahead single in the fourth, and Carlos Guillen’s RBI single made it 5-3 in the fifth.

The Tigers added two more runs in the sixth on run-scoring singles by Eric Munson and Bobby Higginson, chasing Davis.

Pena hit a two-run homer off Jose Jimenez in the seventh.

Cleveland made it 9-5 in the eighth with two runs in the eighth. Mark Little hit a sacrifice fly in his first major league game since Sept. 29, 2002, and Tim Laker added an RBI single.

Detroit scored three in the bottom of the eighth on a two-run single by Guillen and a run-scoring single by Pena.

Wedge and center fielder Coco Crisp were ejected in the sixth inning for arguing a call at first base. Crisp appeared to make contact with first base umpire Ed Rapuano after being called out on a grounder to short.

“I just blew up when he called me out,” Crisp said. “The bump was unintentional—that’s not me—but I thought I was safe, and when I saw thereplay, I was.”

Notes

Before the game Indians manager Eric Wedge said he has changed closers—again. It’s the fourth time this season. David Riske gets a second shot at the job, replacing Jose Jimenez (1-7, 8.42 ERA). The Indians are close to getting back reliever Bob Wickman, who they’d hoped would be their closer, but has been recovering from elbow surgery. He is expected to rejoin the team after the All-Star break. … Rodriguez’s third-inning double was the 400th of his career. … Jody Gerut replaced Crisp in the Cleveland lineup, while coach Buddy Bell, a former Tigers manager, replaced Wedge. … No major league teamhas ever hit game-ending homers in four straight games.

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