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Tigers offense silenced by rookie

Tigers unable to overcome rookie Carmona

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DETROIT -- Tigers left fielder Craig Monroe ended an Indians rally with a diving catch in the top of the fourth inning. Cleveland left fielder Todd Hollandsworth stopped Detroit's rally with a leaping grab over the fence in the bottom of the inning.

Both were great highlights, but while Monroe's catch merely prevented Cleveland's eighth run, Hollandsworth's kept the Tigers scoreless. The Indians beat up on Jeremy Bonderman, including Travis Hafner's seventh home run of the year, as Indians prospect Fausto Carmona quieted the Tigers for six innings in his Major League debut en route to a 7-2 Detroit loss Saturday at Comerica Park.

It was an odd contrast for Bonderman. He suffered his second loss in three outings to start his fourth Major League season. Yet at the still-tender age of 23, he lost to a pitcher younger than him for only the second time in his career.

"Jeremy just wasn't sharp," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "His rhythm wasn't too good."

Much of Bonderman's downfall revolved around location during a five-run fourth inning in which the Indians batted around and a first inning in which he challenged Hafner.

After giving up a one-out double to Hollandsworth, Bonderman retired Jhonny Peralta to bring up Hafner with two outs in the first. Bonderman wanted to pitch him inside, but didn't go in far enough.

"We wanted to keep him off balance, try to establish [inside]," catcher Vance Wilson said. "When we went in, we were on the plate. That's his strength."

Once Bonderman's first pitch caught the plate, Hafner pulled it into right field for a two-run homer, tying him with Chris Shelton for the Major League lead.

Bonderman retired seven consecutive batters after Victor Martinez followed Hafner's home run with a single. Cleveland's next hit didn't come until Hafner came up again in the fourth. This time, they battled to a full count before Hafner blistered another Bonderman pitch off the center-field wall for a leadoff double.

Bonderman's outing fell apart from there. Martinez hit a comebacker to Bonderman for the first out before four consecutive Indians reached base safely. Ramon Vazquez singled in one run by taking a hanging sinker and lashing it through the middle. Casey Blake drove in another on an infield single. Hollandsworth plated two more with a double into right field.

"Everything he got hurt on had to do with location," Wilson said. "He had his good stuff in the bullpen, good game plan. We just missed with our spots, and then you tip your cap to their lineup. They hurt you when you make mistakes."

By the time Monroe stretched out, dove and hit the grass to rob Peralta and end the fourth inning, Bonderman was in the clubhouse, having allowed seven runs on eight hits in 3 2/3 innings. He was the second Tigers starting pitcher in three days to not last through the fourth inning. Considering rookie Justin Verlander was the other, Bonderman's struggles were far more surprising.

"I didn't execute in certain situations where I could've gotten out of the inning," Bonderman said. "And I couldn't get ground balls to get a double play. I paid the price."

Rookie Jordan Tata ended the damage and saved Detroit's bullpen with four scoreless innings, but it meant little in the result. In the battle between Bonderman and Carmona, the younger pitcher looked like the veteran against a Tigers lineup that didn't have Dmitri Young, Ivan Rodriguez, Magglio Ordonez or Placido Polanco.

Carmona (1-0) retired 10 consecutive batters following Curtis Granderson's single leading off the bottom of the first. By the time Carlos Guillen ended that streak with a two-out single in the fourth, Detroit was down seven runs.

Marcus Thames followed Guillen with a drive long enough to eat away at that deficit. He hit a 2-0 pitch deep to left that seemed to be a two-run homer until Hollandsworth timed his leap and brought it back into the field.

"Sometimes when you get that opportunity, you're just hauling into the wall and it doesn't work out," Hollandsworth said. "In that situation, I was able to get back to the wall, get a gauge on it and make a good jump to try and bring it back. I was waiting for it to come down."

The Tigers had two more threats in which they could've used drives like that. With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, Carmona escaped with a Granderson flyout on the first pitch. His scoreless outing ended when Detroit loaded the bases again with none out in the sixth.

Even then, Detroit couldn't manage a big hit to get back into the game. Brandon Inge's sacrifice fly drove in Omar Infante, but Shelton hit into an inning-ending double play.

Leyland talked before the game about the challenges facing a prospect in his debut with limited scouting reports and virtually no video. Nevertheless, he was hoping consistent approaches would make a difference.

"Normally, no matter what the score is or what seems to happen, you get a couple chances during the course of a game to come back," Leyland said. "We had a couple. We had the bases loaded a couple of times and couldn't really take advantage of them. We had our shots to get back in the game. If we just pick up two or three of those, we're right back in the ballgame. We just didn't get it done."

Infante led Detroit's attack with two hits, including an RBI double in the eighth to score Granderson. He and Guillen, who also had a two-hit game, combined for three of the five hits off Carmona in six innings.

"He did a good job," Shelton said. "Going into that [game] blind was tough. He [went] out there and he executed."

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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