Detroit outfielder Clete Thomas smacked a two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth to complete a stirring 6-5 comeback victory for the Tigers over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday. The Orioles raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning but the resolute Tigers chipped away at the deficit to tie the game by the bottom of the fifth before Thomas capped the scoring to increase Detroit's lead in the AL Central to two games.
Baltimore shocked Detroit ace Justin Verlander (12-5) by scoring all their runs in the first inning before the pitcher, the American League leader in strikeouts, settled down to keep the Orioles subdued for the next seven innings. Brian Roberts led off the game with a home run and the next three Baltimore hitters singled to load the bases. Luke Scott's two-run double completed the productive first inning for the Orioles but that was all they could muster off Verlander.
Detroit immediately answered back with three runs in the first on an RBI double by Placido Polanco and a two-run double from Miguel Cabrera. "The first inning, both ways, was the key to the game," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. Ramon Santiago had an RBI single in the fourth and the Tigers then tied the game on a solo homer by Cabrera. Fernando Rodney (2-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the win. Meanwhile in other action, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Kansas City Royals 10-4.
Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford collected three hits apiece for the Rays, who have won four of their last six games and moved to within five and a half games of American League East leaders New York Yankees. Finally, the Oakland Athletics scored three runs in the ninth inning to record a 3-2 win against the Texas Rangers. * Reuters