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07/02/08 1:06 AM ET
Former teammate gets best of Tigers
Monroe goes yard for Twins as free passes haunt Detroit
By Thor Nystrom / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Tigers starter Nate Robertson played with fire for three innings on Tuesday against the Twins. In the fourth inning, facing a former teammate, he got burned. Robertson allowed the first two batters to reach in each of the first two innings and the second batter to reach in the third, but got out of the jams with a double play in each frame. In the fourth, Robertson again allowed the first two batters to reach, via singles by Mike Redmond and Justin Morneau. This time, however, Robertson couldn't wriggle out of the jam. Ex-Tiger Craig Monroe blistered a 90-mph fastball 419 feet over the center-field wall. The home run kick-started Minnesota's offense en route to a 6-4 victory over Detroit. "We caught a couple breaks, but sooner or later it ran out," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. The Twins continued to pester Robertson in the fifth. Minnesota began the inning with three runs on five consecutive hits before Robertson was pulled for reliever Zach Miner. Robertson went four innings while allowing six earned runs on 11 hits, three strikeouts and two walks. "They had guys on base every inning, it wasn't easy," Robertson said. "They were scrappy tonight." Said Leyland: "We didn't pitch well from the beginning -- we didn't pitch well throughout the night, until we got to Bobby Seay." Leyland was particularly perturbed after the game regarding the free passes issued. Robertson walked two and Miner walked four. The pair each issued a walk to free-swinging speedster Carlos Gomez. It was the first time in the center fielder's career that he drew two walks. The Tigers trailed, 6-1, before cutting the deficit to three in the sixth with a Marcus Thames two-run homer off Twins starter Scott Baker. Gary Sheffield's RBI double in the eighth cut Minnesota's lead to 6-4, but Twins reliever Dennys Reyes induced a fly out from Miguel Cabrera, pinch-hitting, to end the inning. Cabrera was out of the starting lineup after exiting Monday's contest with a tight left hip flexor. "That was the perfect situation," Leyland said of using Cabrera as a pinch-hitter. "One swing of the bat, he could tie the game. It wasn't a situation where he could hit into a double play. ... That situation is perfect really, because he could hit one out and limp around the bases." The Tigers defense was of big aid to the pitchers, turning five double plays over eight innings. "Freak plays," Leyland said. "We were fortunate that they didn't have a bunch of runs. With that kind of speed, normally we don't catch that kind of break like we did right off the bat." Minnesota closer Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth inning for his 23rd save. "We battled back, fell short, but we didn't give up," Thames said. "We just have to come back tomorrow and try to win the series." Monroe's latest form of revenge against the Tigers, who traded him to the Cubs last year, was a 2-for-3 night with a home run and three RBIs. Monroe is hitting .389 (7-for-18) with two home runs and six RBIs against Detroit this season. "Everybody knows he has power ... he's a threat at all times," Leyland said.
Thor Nystrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.