Detroit’s Garcia wins in 2008 debut

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Despite not having thrown a pitch off a big league mound in over 15 months, Detroit right-hander Freddy Garcia looked right at home Wednesday night.

“It was like riding a bike for him,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It was a thing of beauty. He was calm. You could tell by his mound presence. He’s a competitor.”

Garcia pitched five innings to win in his first game since June 2007 and the Detroit Tigers scored nine runs in the fifth inning to beat Texas 17-4 and snap a six-game losing streak. He allowed an unearned run and two hits. Garcia signed a minor league contract last month, more than a year after his season ended for Philadelphia because of an injured shoulder.

The 33-year-old struck out three, walked one and threw only 59 pitches. The two-time All-Star went 17-9 for the Chicago White Sox in 2006, but was 1-5 with a 5.90 ERA in 11 starts year for the Phillies.

Leyland said after the game Garcia will make another start Tuesday against Kansas City.

“I’m happy to be here,” Garcia said. “It has been a year and really hard for me to be away from baseball. I did everything I could to get back. I pitched my game, threw my pitches.”

Garcia allowed a single in the second and another leading off the third before retiring the final nine batters he faced.

While he didn’t have the overpowering fastball he displayed in helping the White Sox win the 2005 World Series, it was a good first step in Garcia’s comeback attempt.

Garcia will be a free agent after the season.

“I’m sure he’ll pitch in the big leagues again for somebody,” Leyland said.

Detroit gave Garcia the support he needed when 11 straight batters reached in the fifth off three pitchers. The Tigers added five more runs in the sixth to hand the Rangers their most lopsided home loss of the season.

Miguel Cabrera was 4-for-5 and hit a three-run homer—his 34th—and Dusty Ryan also had four hits as the Tigers avoided tying their longest losing streak of the season.

Magglio Ordonez, who won last season’s batting crown, went 3-for-5 with four RBIs to raise his average to .326. He is tied with Boston’s Dustin Pedroia for the top spot in the American League.

“What a great story that would be for him and for the Tigers,” Leyland said. “To have back-to-back batting titles, what a feather in his cap.”

Dustin Nippert (3-5) allowed five runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings.

After retiring the first batter of the fifth, Nippert gave up a single to Ordonez, a double to Cabrera and intentionally walked Gary Sheffield to load the bases.

Luis Mendoza came out of the bullpen and allowed four hits and two walks without retiring a batter. The key blows off Mendoza were a two-run single from Edgar Renteria and a two-run triple by Ryan Raburn that gave the Tigers a 6-1 lead.

Ryan and Marcus Thames had RBI singles and Ordonez had a three-run single.

By the time Wes Littleton struck out Renteria, Detroit had an 11-1 lead after a fifth inning in which it had seven hits, three walks and sent 14 batters to the plate.

“It just got out of hand,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “We couldn’t put the fire out.”

Cabrera’s three-run homer in the sixth gave him a career-high 121 RBIs.

Brandon Boggs, who also had a two-run double in the seventh, drove in the only run off Garcia with a groundout in the third.

Notes

Texas DH Milton Bradley was out of the lineup for the ninth time in the last 11 games. He is sore from a cortisone shot in his left wrist. Washington expects Bradley back by the weekend. … Detroit’s Curtis Granderson was 0-for-5 and is 1-for-22 the past five games. … Rangers SS Michael Young aggravated a fracture on his right ring finger and left the game after the fourth. … RHP Brian Gordon made his big league debut, becoming the 55th different player and 30th pitcher to appear in a game for Texas.

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