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Rogers ties up Cardinals with shutout string

Monday, October 23, 2006

(Photo)
Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers, right, reacted after getting the Cardinals' David Eckstein to ground into a double play to end the eighth inning of Game 2 of the World Series on Sunday in Detroit. Tigers first baseman Carlos Guillen followed Rogers off the field.
(Associated Press)
The Detroit pitcher breezed through the Cardinals for eight innings as the Tigers tied the series at 1-1.

DETROIT -- Now you see it. Now you don't.

Whatever was on Kenny Rogers' hand, even after he washed it off, the St. Louis Cardinals barely hit him.

Virtually untouchable this October, Rogers smothered the Cardinals on two hits over eight shutout innings, leading the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 victory on a chilly Sunday night that tied the World Series at one game apiece.

Rogers also figured in a first-inning flap regarding something noticeable on his pitching hand. It appeared to be something dirty or dark, and umpires brought Cardinals manager Tony La Russa out to the field at the end of the first for a brief discussion.

The left-hander said it was a clump of dirt and resin he picked up from rubbing up baseballs. Whatever was on the Tiger pitcher's paw, it was gone when he came out for the second.

"I didn't know it was there until after the inning," he said.

In the middle of the second, Detroit manager Jim Leyland talked to three umps near the third-base line.

"He was pretty clean the rest of the way," Leyland said.

La Russa wouldn't discuss it: "It's not important to talk about," he said tersely.

Leyland said St. Louis hitters brought the matter up.

"I know Tony said, 'Hey, I don't want to make any issue here, but a couple of my players are saying that the ball is acting a little funny,"' Leyland said. "And obviously they were a little suspicious."

Rogers extended his scoreless streak to 23 postseason innings this year and 24 1/3 postseason innings overall, a streak that began in 2003 with Minnesota. It is the longest streak since Curt Schilling tossed 25 scoreless innings in 1993 and 2001.

Rogers struck out five and walked three, improving to 3-0 in this postseason. He was 0-3 with an 8.85 ERA in the postseason before this year.

"This is where it's at and what it's all about, being able to come in here and do something like this," he said. "I've done as bad as you can do on the field. It's great to have some success."

Todd Jones came on in the ninth and allowed Scott Rolen's two-out single, then misplayed Juan Encarnacion's comebacker for an error that put runners on the corners. Jim Edmonds blooped a double down the left-field line that scored Rolen, and Jones hit Preston Wilson with a pitch, loading the bases.

After a visit from pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Jones retired Yadier Molina on a forceout, preserving the shaky save and completing a four-hitter.

Craig Monroe got the Tigers started by homering for the second straight night, a solo shot off Jeff Weaver in a two-run first, and Carlos Guillen and Sean Casey also drove in runs for Detroit. Guillen had three hits falling a home run short of the cycle.

Rogers allowed an infield single by Rolen in the first that third baseman Brandon Inge could only knock down. He didn't give up another hit until Molina singled to right leading off the eighth.

In a battle of starters who flopped with the New York Yankees, Weaver struggled and allowed at least two runners in every inning. He left after five, having allowed three runs and nine hits.

A night after St. Louis got the National League's first Series win since 2003, Detroit made sure one record won't fall this year: There have never been three straight Series sweeps.

Following a travel day, the new Busch Stadium in St. Louis hosts its first Series game Tuesday night, with Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter pitching against Nate Robertson.

One day after losing 7-2 in its first Series game since 1984, the Tigers got off to a quick start on a chilly night, when the gametime temperature with 44 with a threat of rain.

Monroe hit Weaver's sixth pitch into the seats in left-center for his second homer in the Series and his fifth in the postseason, tying Hank Greenberg's Tigers career record. One out later, Magglio Ordonez singled, and Guillen doubled him home with a drive to left, a drive that short-hopped the wall

Weaver escaped further trouble when Ivan Rodriguez grounded to third and he wiggled out of trouble in the next three innings. Curtis Granderson hit into an inning-ending double play in the second, and Rodriguez ended the third with a groundout. With runners at second and third and one out in the fourth, Monroe popped out and Placido Polanco grounded out.

But the Tigers broke through in the fifth when Guillen tripled down the right-field line -- Encarnacion, a former Tiger, had trouble coming up with the ball -- and Casey singled him home with two outs.

Rogers pitched with emotion once again, spinning off the mound when he walked Scott Spiezio, making huge hops over the World Series logo when he walked from the mound back to the Tigers dugout on the third-base side. The 41-year-old pumped his arm and snapped his head when David Eckstein hit into a double-play grounder that ended the eighth.

"It makes me nervous to see someone that pumped up," Leyland said.

St. Louis has languished against lefties this year -- the Cardinals were 23-24 against southpaws during the regular season and had trouble against the Mets' Tom Glavine and Oliver Perez in the NL championship series.

Rogers' biggest out came in the first, after he walked Albert Pujols with two outs and Rolen singled off Inge. He got ahead of Encarnacion 0-2, then snared a comebacker on the third-base side of the mound and shot-putted the ball to first for the easy out.

That started a string of 10 straight outs until he walked Edmonds leading off the fourth.

Notes: Schilling compiled his scoreless streak in 1993 with Philadelphia and 2001 with Arizona. ... The Tigers were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. ... Rogers is second pitcher to have three scoreless starts in a postseason. Christy Mathewson had three complete-game shutouts (27 innings) for the Philadelphia Athletics in the 1905 World Series.


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