Rogers picks up solid ninth victory

Rogers picks up solid ninth victory

DETROIT -- Kenny Rogers became the Majors' third nine-game winner in a 7-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night at Comerica Park.

Detroit batters backed Rogers' bid to join Curt Schilling and Tom Glavine atop the Majors in wins by scoring one run in the second and sending 11 players to the plate in a six-run fifth inning, accented by Carlos Guillen's two-run double.

The double was the only extra-base hit for Detroit all night and knocked Rays starter Seth McClung out of the game.

Tuesday's victory marked the first time Detroit has won without a home run since beating the Yankees on June 1.

Ruddy Lugo relieved McClung and greeted Marcus Thames with a strikeout, but Alexis Gomez followed with his second run-scoring single of the game and Brandon Inge added the fourth of five RBIs in the inning with a run-scoring single.

Following Monday's 4-3 extra-innings win, Rogers gave the bullpen a much-appreciated break, according to manager Jim Leyland.

"Well, obviously we needed to rest our bullpen tonight, and Kenny did a great job of doing that for us," Leyland said. "He changed his speeds and mixed his pitches and took advantage of some wild swings."

Rogers threw 108 pitches and struck out a season-high nine batters in his 14th start of the year. After Julio Lugo's two-out double in the third, Rogers retired 13 consecutive batters until Rocco Baldelli doubled to start the eighth inning. Baldelli scored two batters later on Josh Paul's sacrifice fly to break up the shutout bid.

"[Rogers is] a good pitcher," Leyland said. "He knows what he's doing, he knows what he wants to do. He's got the capability to adjust. If a team adjusts to him and starts to do too much, taking the ball the other way and stuff, he's got the ability to cut the ball inside and keep them off balance. That's a veteran pitcher."

Tuesday's triumph marks Rogers' second fastest run to nine victories in his career. Of the 13 seasons that he has won at least nine games, only 2004 saw the left-hander reach the mark sooner, hitting the mark on June 10 of that year while pitching for the Rangers.

Now a win away from No. 200 for his career, Rogers was grateful for his teammates' support.

"That's pretty much all of it. It's never one guy's individual success," Rogers said. "My individual numbers -- wins, losses, whatever -- can totally be attributed to the team I'm playing with."

Tuesday's victory ties the 2006 Tigers with the 1961 and 1966 Detroit clubs at 42-23, the sixth-best start in Detroit annals.

"These guys have played great behind me in all aspects," Rogers said. "They've helped themselves and me just as much or more as any team I've had. These guys, I know they appreciate me going out there, but I appreciate them just as much for the effort they give me."

Rogers returned the effort in the top of the seventh with the 10th of his 13 consecutive batters retired. Jorge Cantu hit a sharp comebacker that bounced off of Rogers' 41-year-old frame and rolled towards the first-base side of the mound. Rogers regrouped quickly, chased down the ball and, in a diving motion, shoveled the ball to first baseman Carlos Guillen in time for the out.

"I'm not nimble like I used to be," Rogers said, "but I still have the same desire to make the plays."

Second baseman Placido Polanco compared him to an extra infielder. "He covers a lot of ground out there," Polanco said. "He says, 'Everything hit to me or to the right or the left, I've got it.' He takes a few hits from the other teams."

The Tigers victory gives Detroit a 2-0 series lead. Tampa Bay and Detroit have split their all-time series 31-31 since the Rays debuted in the American League in 1998.

Sam Miller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.