Durbin's early struggles cost Tigers

Durbin exits early in loss to A's

DETROIT -- Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't want to be construed as being negative, but as far as he's concerned, facts are facts.

Following the Tigers' 7-2 loss to the A's on Monday night, Detroit is 8-17 since it last won a series July17-19.

"If anybody thinks we're going to win anything playing and pitching like this, they're out of their minds," said Leyland.

But Leyland thinks his team will bounce back and play better.

A victory would have given Detroit a win in the four-game series, but it had to settle for a split. The loss also dropped the Tigers into a first-place tie atop the American League Central with the idle Cleveland Indians.

And as it has been throughout the Tigers' struggles, starting pitching was the biggest problem on Monday night. Chad Durbin allowed six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings, walking four and striking out three in the loss.

"Not locating the ball, not making big pitches, not putting guys away," said Durbin of why he didn't get the job done.

Meanwhile, the Tigers could manage only four hits and struck out 14 times against three A's pitchers.

Oakland starter Chad Gaudin (9-8) allowed all four hits and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings to shut down the offense. He had been 0-5 with an 8.54 ERA in his five previous starts since the All-Star break.

At one point he retired 10 straight Tigers from the first inning until Ivan Rodriguez's two-out double in the fourth ended the streak.

Placido Polanco was the lone bright spot for Detroit. He set a Major League record with his 144th consecutive erorless game at second base. The previous record of 143 had been held by Luis Castillo.

Oakland broke a 2-2 tie in the third on a bases-loaded RBI single by Mike Piazza, and a run-scoring fielder's choice by Dan Johnson on an odd 6-2-5 force play. Johnson's one-hop liner deflected off the glove of Carlos Guillen at shortstop to Polanco, who fired to third baseman Brandon Inge for a force on the runner going to third.

The A's added two more runs in the fifth on a two-run single by Marco Scutaro, and another in the sixth when struggling reliever Jason Grilli walked Scutaro with the bases loaded.

The Tigers were down 2-0 after the A' first two batters of the game came across to score. Leadoff man Shannon Stewart singled off of Durbin on an 0-2 pitch and Mark Ellis drilled a pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.

But Detroit tied it in its half of the inning, and only needed one hit to do it.

Curtis Granderson walked to lead-off the Tigers' first and Polanco was hit by a pitch. The runners moved up on a groundout and scored on Magglio Ordonez's single to center.

That gave Ordonez, who had two home runs in an inning on Sunday, 104 RBIs for the season, which matches his total for the entire 2006 campaign. Ordonez is also leading the AL with a .356 average.

"The guy is seeing beach balls," Gaudin said.

But Ordonez struck out in his final three at bats. That pretty much sums up the night for the Tigers when their starting pitching once again let them down and their hottest hitter, who is "seeing beach balls," struck out three times.

It's pretty hard to argue with Leyland.

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