Rangers 7, Tigers 6
DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Tigers picked a bad time to go into their worst slump of the year.
The second place Chicago White Sox are coming to town and have their sights set on the AL Central leaders.
Hank Blalock hit a tiebreaking single in the sixth, Gary Matthews throw to the plate kept the lead the next inning and the Texas Rangers held on after overcoming a six-run deficit for a 7-6 win over Detroit on Sunday.
Texas has won nine of 11 games to stay in the AL West race, 5 1/2 games behind Oakland.
“These guys believe in themselves,” Rangers bench coach Don Wakamatsu.
The Tigers insist they do, too, despite losing nine of 12.
Detroit’s 10-game lead in the AL Central has been cut to 5 1/2 games over the White Sox after padding the best record in baseball by reaching 40 games above .500 on Aug. 8.
“The attitude in here is we’re still the best team in baseball,” said Craig Monroe, who had two RBIs. “We have some tough games coming up, but this is what it’s all about.”
Detroit begins a four-game series Monday at home against the White Sox.
After the Tigers scored six runs in the second inning against John Koronka, Texas’ bullpen shut them down.
The Tigers have won 11 games when trailing after seven innings and six more when starting the ninth behind, but couldn’t rally to beat the Rangers the past three games—losing by four runs combined.
“The bullpen, the whole series, did a fantastic job,” said Wakamatsu, who filled for Texas manager Buck Showalter as he served the final of his four-game suspension. “It was a big series for us.”
Koronka gave up six runs, six hits, three walks and didn’t have a strikeout. He started for Texas for the first time since Aug. 5 in place Vicente Padilla, who was suspended, like Showalter, for his role in an on-field altercation Wednesday with the Los Angeles Angels.
Detroit starter Jeremy Bonderman allowed six runs—five earned—11 hits and two walks, blowing a huge cushion.
“That’s sad when I can’t hold onto a six-run lead,” he said.
“We’re playing just good enough to get beat,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said.
The Rangers overcame the 6-0 deficit with two runs in the third, one in the fourth, three in the fifth and another in the sixth.
“The approach was to not try to get six runs right away,” Wakamatsu said. “We didn’t come out there hacking.”
It was Texas’ biggest comeback since beating Oakland 8-7 on May 25 after trailing by seven runs seven runs after five innings.
Lee doubled and scored on Blalock’s single, putting Texas ahead 7-6 in the sixth to cap the rally.
“It looks like he was safe,” Leyland said. “But that’s not fair to the umpire. That’s after seeing it five or six times.”
Brent Clevlen sparked a six-run second with the first of seven hits in the inning, the most for the Tigers in an inning this year.
Clevlen tripled, bringing in two runs and scored on Vance Wilson’s single, surpassing Detroit’s runs scored from the previous two games. Ivan Rodriguez doubled and scored along with Wilson on Monroe’s double. Marcus Thames singled, chasing Koronka, and Ordonez followed with an RBI single to make it 6-0.
Detroit acquired Neifi Perez from the Chicago Cubs on Sunday for a minor league catcher Chris Robinson, adding infield depth less than a week after losing second baseman Placido Polanco because of a shoulder injury. … Otsuka became the first Texas pitcher to have three saves in three days since Francisco Cordero from July 28-30, 2005.