Blue Jays 7, Tigers 4

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DETROIT (AP)—The Detroit Tigers took another step toward the AL Central title Wednesday night.

It just wasn’t the step they wanted to take.

Ted Lilly pitched six strong innings and the Toronto Blue Jays hit four home runs in a 7-4 victory over Detroit, but the Tigers held on to their one-game lead when the Minnesota Twins lost 6-4 to Kansas City.

“They didn’t do what they were supposed to do, but neither did we,” said Craig Monroe, who homered for the Tigers. “We can’t be happy when they lose— we have to win games.”

Detroit’s magic number for clinching the division dropped to three. If the teams finish tied for first, the Tigers will get the division title by winning the season series 11-8.

“It’s hard to win games in this league, and we both found that out tonight,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It’s going to go down to the wire, just like we’ve known all along.”

The Tigers (95-63) fell one game behind the New York Yankees, who beat Baltimore 16-5, for the AL’s best record.

Toronto’s victory, its 10th in 15 games, moved them ahead of Boston, which lost 11-0 to Tampa Bay, and into second place in the AL East. The Blue Jays haven’t finished as high as second since 1993.

“The key to our game is the home run, and we hit some big ones tonight,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “It wasn’t easy, but we hung in there.”

Lilly (15-13) beat the Tigers for the first time since 2003, allowing three runs—one earned—and five hits in seven innings. He did not walk a batter and struck out nine, giving him 21 in 15 2-3 innings against Detroit this season.

“I was able to throw strikes and make good pitches,” he said. “It was good to finish the season on a positive note, but I wish I would be pitching in October.”

B.J. Ryan, the fifth Toronto reliever, pitched the ninth for his 36th save.

Nate Robertson (13-13) struggled in his final regular-season start, allowing six runs and 10 hits—including four homers—in 4 2-3 innings. Robertson had only allowed six earned runs in his previous five starts combined.

“I felt good, but I just couldn’t get my fastball where I wanted it,” he said. “That team can hit a little, so you aren’t going to get away with leaving the ball over the plate.”

Robertson will join Jeremy Bonderman, Kenny Rogers and Justin Verlander in the Tigers’ postseason rotation.

“Obviously, that’s not how you want to finish the regular season, but I know I’ll have another start next week in a more important game,” Robertson said.

Bengie Molina hit a three-run homer, his 19th, in the first, improving his career numbers against Robertson to 5-for-8 with three homers.

“That wasn’t a very good way to start,” Robertson said. “I would have liked that pitch back—that one and several others.”

The Blue Jays made it 6-0 with three solo homers. Gregg Zaun’s career-high 12th homer gave Toronto a 4-0 lead in the fourth, while Troy Glaus and Aaron Hill chased Robertson with homers in the fifth.

In the Tigers fifth, Ivan Rodriguez hit a solo homer and Placido Polanco added a two-run shot, his fourth in 444 at-bats this year.

Monroe made it 6-4 in the eighth with the game’s seventh homer.

Glaus added an RBI single in the ninth.


The game started 32 minutes late because of rain. … Molina is one short of Darrin Fletcher’s team record for home runs by a catcher. … The scoreboards at Comerica Park failed just as Hill hit his homer in the fifth. They came back on at the end of the inning. … OF Magglio Ordonez was back in the Tigers starting lineup after leaving Tuesday’s win with back spasms. … Leyland told LHP Mike Maroth before the game that he would not be on Detroit’s active roster for the first round. “I’m sure I broke a heart there, and I feel terrible about it myself,” he said.

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