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Home not so sweet in loss to Tribe
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06/19/2003  3:49 PM ET 
Home not so sweet in loss to Tribe
Loss particularly disappointing to Trammell, players
By Jason Beck / MLB.com

Dmitri Young chases a ball hit over his head by Cleveland's Tim Laker for a double. (Duane Burleson/AP)
DETROIT -- Tigers manager Alan Trammell has kept a strong public face through all of his young team's struggles. But Thursday's 10-3 loss to the Indians, finishing off a three-game sweep and a 1-8 homestand, was a little tough even for him.

Trammell stood in the dugout at least two minutes after the game ended, after his players headed for the clubhouse. He had three short answers for reporters and then cut his meeting short.

"We cracked today," Trammell said. "We've had few and far between, but any time we have games like this, it doesn't sit very well with me."

In a season full of close losses, this was one defeat that bothered many. Cleveland pounced on starter Nate Cornejo for six runs in 4 2/3 innings and the Tigers crumbled from there. Detroit gave up double-digit runs for the sixth time this season, though the previous two were 10-9 nailbiters.

Coors Field can't look much better for a road team than it will for the Tigers. The Indians, meanwhile, wouldn't mind staying at Comerica Park. In the battle of AL Central rebuilding projects, the Indians leave town with five wins at Comerica Park this season. The Tigers have six here, one of them on their now-completed nine-game homestand as they head to Colorado for the start of a welcome seven-game road trip.

"This team shouldn't beat you that bad," first baseman Shane Halter said of the Indians.

For those who weren't in the game, the feeling wasn't much better.

"It's hard to take. It hurts," said Carlos Peña, who hopes to begin his rehab stint Friday at Toledo. "Cleveland took it away from us, pretty much the whole series."

    Nate Cornejo   /   P
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 240
Bats/Throws: R/R

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etopps

On Thursday, they pretty much took the ground ball away from Cornejo (3-5), who was roughed up for the third straight outing. He retired the side in order in the first inning on solid pitches, according to pitching coach Bob Cluck, but the Indians hit two fly balls.

Milton Bradley greeted Cornejo in the second inning with a solo homer to right-center, his sixth of the year. Ben Broussard followed with a fly ball to the warning track in center. Less than half of Cornejo's outs came on the ground.

"I was keeping everything down," Cornejo said. "It just wasn't a good day and they took advantage."

All five of Cornejo's ground-ball outs came in a hitless stretch from the second through fourth innings, when he followed that homer by retiring nine of the next 10 batters with a lone walk. Cleveland drove in that run on a stolen base and two groundouts.


"We cracked today. We've had few and far between, but any time we have games like this, it doesn't sit very well with me."
-- Alan Trammell

Then, like Tigers starters before him this week, Cornejo fell to the big inning. Casey Blake led off the sixth with a homer, Tim Laker doubled over Dmitri Young's head and off the left-field wall and Brandon Phillips singled off second baseman Warren Morris. A run of four straight singles -- two off Cornejo and two off left-hander Wil Ledezma -- brought in two more runs.

"He was rushing a bit and he left the ball up," Cluck said.

When the Indians added another run in the top of the sixth for a 7-1 game, the Tigers ran low on fight. A Halter error on a ground ball to first led to an unearned run in a two-run seventh. Blake blooped a single over the infield leading off the eighth, and scored three pitches later to put the Indians into double digits. A trio of double plays actually kept the damage from growing any worse.

Cornejo's ERA has risen from 2.82 to 4.06 in his last three games. His winless streak stretched to seven starts. But considering no Tigers starter has picked up a win since Adam Bernero's first victory May 31, Cornejo's not alone.

A pair of solo homers and a triple accounted for Detroit's offense. Halter's leadoff triple off the left-field wall in the fifth set up A.J. Hinch's sacrifice fly. Young's solo shot to left in the sixth completed the damage off Indians starter Brian Anderson (4-6), who improved to 3-0 in four career outings against Detroit.

    Dmitri Young   /   1B
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 235
Bats/Throws: S/R

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Young's team-high 14th home run of the season broke an 0-for-9 skid. He has 11 hits in his last 24 at-bats from the right side of the plate. Detroit's other home run came from one of its hotter hitters, Morris, who homered for the second time in four starts this homestand.

It still wasn't enough. Asked if he saw improvement, Bobby Higginson said it was small. "We're just not hitting," said Higginson, whose 0-for-3 afternoon finished his homestand at 6-for-29. "If we start hitting, we'll have a chance."

One who gives them a chance is Eric Munson, who continued his tear with three hits for the second straight game. He improved his stretch to 12-for-32 on the homestand and 10-for-16 during his five-game hitting streak. His average has risen in that stretch from .218 to .253.

Blake led the Indians by going 3-for-4, scoring three runs.

The Tigers' 12th loss in their last 13 games continued baseball's worst start since the 1982 Twins, who went 16-53 in their first 69 games. Detroit stands two games behind the pace set by the 1962 New York Mets, but that expansion team still had two double-digit losing streaks ahead of it en route to 120 losses.

The Tigers have yet to drop double digits in a row. Steve Sparks hopes they keep it that way.

"We need to play smarter fundamentally," Sparks said. "The biggest thing is to have good at-bats against guys and make quality pitches. We have to break it down."

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



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