DETROIT (AP)—Jim Leyland insists it’s not Motown magic—just a group of gritty players refusing to give up.
Placido Polanco’s two-out double in the 10th scored Curtis Granderson from first base and lifted the Detroit Tigers to a 7-6 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday night, earning their fifth victory when trailing after eight innings.
“Everybody is talking the magic. There’s no magic—it’s hard work, concentration, playing nine innings your best,” Leyland said. “Did I like our chances with Jason Isringhausen on the mound in the ninth inning? No, I didn’t. But sometimes when you keep grinding it out, things happen. He got a ball up and Marcus smoked it.”
Granderson led off the ninth with an infield single, and after Isringhausen struck out Polanco, Thames followed with a shot into the left-field seats that brought a roaring, sellout crowd of 42,535 to its feet.
The Cardinals did not think Granderson should’ve been on first, putting the tying run at the plate.
“The ball, it looked on the replays like it went off his foot,” Isringhausen said.
“No matter what the situation is, even if we’re ahead, it’s not over until we walk off the field,” said Granderson, who was 4-for-5 with three runs, an RBI and a walk.
The Tigers became the first team in baseball to reach 50 wins, with their eighth victory in nine games.
St. Louis has lost five straight for the first time this season.
Tyler Johnson (0-1) relieved Isringhausen with two outs, then allowed Granderson to reach on a walk. Polanco followed with a double to the right-center wall, allowing Granderson to score easily and setting off a celebration on the field—and in the stands.
“We’ve won games like that—we’ve broken people’s hearts before,” St. Louis manager Tony La Russa said. “Tonight, we got our hearts broken.”
Joel Zumaya (4-1) pitched the 10th to earn the win.
St. Louis starter Jeff Suppan gave up three runs, nine hits and three walks. He threw 55 pitches in the first two innings, and 39 over the next three.
“The first two innings, I wound up throwing a lot of pitches, which effected me later in the game and limited the amount of innings I could go,” Suppan said.
Tigers ace Kenny Rogers allowed six runs—five earned—seven hits and three walks, two of which were intentional to Pujols and Rolen, over 5 1-3 innings. Relievers Roman Colon, Jamie Walker and Jason Grilli didn’t give up a run over 3 2-3 innings, allowing Detroit to come back.
“When you come out of the bullpen, you’re a hero or a goat—and we had a lot of heroes tonight,” Grilli said.
The Tigers had several scoring opportunities before they rallied in the ninth, but St. Louis’ defense prevented them from turning hits into more runs.
In the fifth, trailing 5-3 after Pujols’ groundout led to David Eckstein’s second run, Detroit had two on and one out. The Cardinals got Suppan out of the jam with a double play—their third in three innings—leaving Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski shaking his head from his seat near the press box.
“We had our chances, but we couldn’t put Soup away—he made a pitch when he needed it,” Leyland said.
Pujols, in his third game since coming off the disabled list, was at the plate with the bases loaded in the eighth. Grilli got the slugger to end the inning with a flyout.
Leyland said he told Wilson “cross your fingers” when giving signs to Grilli.
“He had a chance to blow it open, or at least give them a cushion,” Grilli said.
St. Louis outfielder Juan Encarnacion had his hitting streak snapped at 14 games, which was the longest active streak in the NL.
Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds missed his third game because of a concussion and is day-to-day. … Rodriguez was held out of the lineup as a precaution because of a wrist bruise from a foul ball Friday night. “I’ll play (Sunday)— for sure,” Rodriguez said. … Encarnacion, who signed as a free agent in January, has been traded three times since the Tigers sent him to Cincinnati in 2001 in a deal bringing DH Dmitri Young to Detroit. … Leyland said his brother, Larry, told him to put Thames on the roster coming out of spring training. “I want to put my brother on the payroll,” Leyland joked.