Tigers extend Cards' AL skid to four games

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Albert Pujols resumed his torrid hitting in a 10-6 loss to Detroit.

DETROIT -- Jim Leyland doesn't expect his Detroit Tigers to be able to stop Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen.

He just hopes that they can continue to limit the damage done by the Cardinals' pair of All-Stars.

Pujols and Rolen combined for seven hits, but only one RBI, and the Tigers went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 10-6 on Friday night.

"You've got Albert, who is arguably the best player in baseball, and you can't really walk him, because Scott Rolen might be the hottest hitter in the game right now," Leyland said. "So you just try to make sure that no one is on base when they come up."

Pujols went 4-for-4 with his 26th homer and a walk in his second game since coming off the disabled list. He had been sidelined since June 3 with a strained oblique muscle.

"I came out a little too anxious last night," said Pujols, who went 0-for-4 Thursday against the White Sox. "I thought my timing wasn't back, but I was able to hit the ball well tonight."

The loss was the fourth straight for the Cardinals, who were swept by the White Sox.

Rookie Justin Verlander (9-4) picked up the win, allowing four runs and seven hits in six innings. He struck out five, but couldn't get past six innings for the fifth straight start.

"It wasn't pretty, but if I give up nine and we score 10, I'm happy," he said. "I'm still not focused enough, especially with two out."

Fernando Rodney pitched two innings before closer Todd Jones gave up Pujols' homer in the ninth. Pujols is now 5-for-6 in his career against Jones, including three homers.

"He's just a special hitter," Jones said. "I've thrown him everything I have, and he hits all of it.

"Their clubhouse guy does a great job hiding his antennae, because that guy's not from this planet."

Chris Carpenter (6-4) lost for just the second time in seven starts, allowing a season-high seven runs and nine hits in seven innings.

"I didn't get the ball down in the strike zone, and they capitalized," he said. "They've got quality from top to bottom, and you have to keep the ball down, because they don't make mistakes."

The Tigers broke open a 3-3 tie with four runs in the fifth inning. Craig Monroe led off with a double and scored on Curtis Granderson's one-out double. Placido Polanco followed with an RBI single, and took third on Vance Wilson's double before Magglio Ordonez made it 7-3 with a two-run single.

The Cardinals pulled within 7-4 in the sixth on Yadier Molina's second RBI double of the game. Molina, who added a run-scoring single in the eighth, finished with three hits and three RBIs.

Detroit scored three in the eighth to make it 10-5 on RBI singles by Marcus Thames and Brandon Inge and a sacrifice fly by Monroe.

The Tigers took a 3-0 lead on Granderson's solo homer in the first and a two-run shot by Inge in the second, but the Cardinals tied the game with three runs in the fourth.


The Tigers lost catcher Ivan Rodriguez to a wrist injury after he was hit with a foul tip. X-rays were negative and his status is day-to-day.

Pujols' oblique muscle appeared to pass a severe test in the first inning when he stretched to make a leaping catch at first base

Carpenter started last year's All-Star game at Comerica Park.

The game was delayed for a few moments in the fourth inning while a squirrel ran around in the outfield. At the end of the inning, the grounds crew chased the squirrel through the outfield fence and into the Tigers bullpen. ... Leyland dismissed recent rumors that the Tigers might trade hard-throwing rookie reliever Joel Zumaya. "We will not trade him. Period," he said. ... Former Tiger Juan Encarnacion singled in the eighth inning to extend his hitting streak to 14 games.

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