Tigers 5, Diamondbacks 1

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PHOENIX (AP)—Ivan Rodriguez keeps getting timely hits, and Detroit’s budding stars seem to be learning from him.

Rodriguez tied the game in the sixth inning with a run-scoring single, and Omar Infante doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh to lead the Tigers over the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-1 Saturday night.

Infante and pinch-hitter Chris Shelton, who got the RBI single that made it 2-1, are in their second full season in the majors.

“We were able to get the big inning when we needed to,” Shelton said. “When it was time to come up with some hits and score some runs, we were able to do it.”

Placido Polanco had three hits, including an RBI single in the Tigers’ four-run seventh.

Brandon Inge and Rondell White also had run-scoring hits for Detroit, which snapped a two-game skid and won for the eighth time in 11 games.

Sean Douglass (1-0) gave up four hits, including a home run by Jose Cruz Jr., in six innings in his season debut to earn his first victory since Sept. 27, 2001, for Baltimore against Boston.

“I was a little nervous,” he said. “I could feel myself squeezing the ball. But after you get the first out, you relax. The nerves weren’t as bad as they were the first hitter.”

Douglass played with the Orioles from 2001-03 and with Toronto last year, before signing with the Tigers as a minor league free agent on Nov. 9.

Rodriguez, an 11-time All-Star behind the plate, had the solution whenever Douglass got antsy.

“Just stay relaxed and throw strikes and get the ball down,” Rodriguez said. “That’s what I told him.”

Franklyn German, Kyle Farnsworth and Troy Percival finished up with a scoreless inning apiece.

Javier Vazquez (7-6), who beat the Tigers 1-0 with a five-hitter in Detroit on May 22, allowed five runs on 10 hits and a walk in 6 1-3 innings.

“I felt good,” Vazquez said. “I was making the pitches, but they were getting through.”

He was holding another 1-0 lead until the sixth inning, when Polanco and Dmitri Young opened with singles. Polanco advanced to third when White grounded into a double play, and scored easily on Rodriguez’s single up the middle.

Infante led off the seventh with Detroit’s first extra-base hit in two nights, and scored on Shelton’s single. Inge made it 3-1 with a one-hop triple into the gap and scored on Polanco’s single that ended Vazquez’s outing.

Polanco reached second on a passed ball by catcher Chris Snyder, and scored easily on White’s single to make it 5-1.

“He pitched well,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said about Vazquez. “We just got in a situation where we couldn’t give up any more runs. We got the infield in, they get some ground balls and they sneak through.”

The Tigers had just one baserunner in each of the first four innings, and Vazquez pitched a 1-2-3 fifth.

Douglass was less consistent early but almost as efficient. After Cruz drove a pitch into the right-field seats leading off the second, Douglass retired six straight.

He then walked Troy Glaus for the second time and gave up a single to Chad Tracy with nobody out in the fourth. However, Cruz bounced into a double play, and Quinton McCracken grounded out to end the inning.

Craig Counsell hit a two-out double in the fifth but was stranded, and Detroit center fielder Nook Logan robbed Glaus of a home run in the sixth.

“It’s nice to get your starters a win,” manager Alan Trammell said. “Especially his first one. He pitched well, and I was like, ‘Here we go again, not scoring any runs.’ But we did.”


McCracken, a late replacement for Luis Gonzalez making his first start in LF, robbed Rondell White of an extra-base hit with a diving catch in the fourth inning. Gonzalez went on bereavement leave because of a death in the family. … Douglass had a 9-1 record in 14 starts with Triple-A Toledo before his call-up Tuesday. His major league record is 3-8, ending a seven-game losing streak that included an 0-2 record with the Blue Jays.

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