Hit parade lifts Tigers over A's

Hit parade sparks Tigers' victory

OAKLAND -- Wednesday's 10-4 win over the A's offered further proof of two certainties: This year's Tigers are different, and when it comes to pitching in Oakland, Kenny Rogers is the same as always.

Rogers (11-3) ran his career record in McAfee Coliseum to 25-4, going 23-1 since 1995.

"I've had some success here, but I don't take it for granted," said Rogers, who in truth didn't pitch well enough on Wednesday to take anything for granted.

He lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and a pair of walks to go along with four strikeouts.

"I'll take any kind of win," he said. "It doesn't matter how I get it. Today wasn't a great day to be a pitcher here."

That was particularly true for A's starter Kirk Saarloos (3-5), who the Tigers roughed up for eight runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings.

After going down 1-2-3 in the first, Detroit pushed runs across in each of the next five frames.

That was a welcome change after scoring a total of four runs in losses on Monday and Tuesday.

"Particularly after losing the last couple of games, it was nice for the bats to explode and score a couple of runs early and let the guys relax a little," manager Jim Leyland said.

The Tigers scored more than a couple early. They got a pair in the second on Chris Shelton's two-run single, then tacked on four more in the third, highlighted by Craig Monroe's two-run blast to left.

Brandon Inge made it 7-0 in the fourth with his career-best 17th home run of the year, an opposite-field poke to right-center, but Oakland answered with three of its own in the bottom half of the inning.

That half of the fourth is when Rogers began to falter a bit, giving up three straight two-out shots, the last of which resulted in Marco Scutaro's first home run of the year.

Rogers ran into trouble again in the fifth, putting runners on first and second with one out and Jay Payton, the man who beat the Tigers with a three-run homer on Monday and a walk-off 10th-inning single on Tuesday, standing at the plate.

Payton smoked a line drive toward the middle, but second baseman Placido Polanco ranged to his right to catch it and step on second for the inning-ending double play.

"That was the play of the game," said Leyland, who said despite the lopsided totals on the scoreboard, Wednesday "was a tough game to manage because [Oakland] kept getting guys on."

Consequently, Leyland had his bullpen up in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

"You always give Kenny the benefit of the doubt, but when they can score runs like that, you can't let it slip away," Leyland said. "You can't get sentimental."

Rogers, who was off his form in his previous two starts, not making it out of the sixth inning either time, didn't get to the seventh on Wednesday, either.

"Today, I felt a lot better than I was [the previous two starts]," Rogers said. "It was just not conducive to fly balls."

That's what A's manager Ken Macha was hoping for.

"Before the game I was thinking, 'He has won all of these games here and a lot of them were night games,'" Macha said. "I felt like the ball would probably be carrying here a little more during the day, and I thought we would have a pretty good chance."

Macha was half right. The ball was carrying, but it was carrying more for the Tigers, who stretched their lead on Alexis Gomez's RBI single in the fifth and capped the scoring with Polanco's RBI single and another run on a double play in the sixth.

The A's closed the book on Rogers and on their own offense in the bottom of the sixth as well, when Bobby Kielty hit a solo homer and Dan Johnson stroked a two-out double to chase the Tigers' All-Star.

That brought in Roman Colon, who didn't allow a run over the final 3 1/3 innings to earn his first Major League save.

For Rogers, it was his final appearance until next Tuesday at the earliest, when American League All-Star manager Ozzie Guillen may give the start to the 41-year-old lefty.

"They've got a lot of better pitchers than the way I've been pitching," Rogers said when asked about possibly starting the All-Star Game. "I kind of do it differently. I chuck and duck, and guys like [Johann] Santana and [Roy] Halladay dominate."

Even if he doesn't dominate on the mound, Rogers dominates on the stat sheet with a league-leading (with Halladay) 11 wins and a 3.85 ERA.

And now Inge is starting to show up high on the stat sheet as well.

"They told me coming in that [Inge] was a super-sub, but he's not a super-sub to me," Leyland said. "He's one of the best athletes on the team and he's got a chance to be a great everyday star. He's got some juice in his bat."

Inge, who said he has not altered his swing since hitting 16 homers last year, is as surprised as anyone at his homer total.

"Funny, isnt it, because this is one of the worst hitting seasons I've had," Inge said. "I'm more of an average guy, and I'm hitting, what, .225?"

Inge hit .287 with 13 homers in 2004 and .261 with 16 blasts last year. Obviously, life is different for the Tigers these days, and not only where stats are concerned.

"I've been through seasons where we were really bad, and this is the first opportunity ever where we even have a chance to say we might make the postseason," Inge said, crediting Leyland with making sure the players go hard for nine innings every day.

"We used to set our goals so far down the road, like let's try to get to .500, that we forgot that what's important is to win today's game," Inge said. "We don't care about what's down the road."

Tony Kuttner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.