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Tigers touch up Jays closer in improbable ninth-inning rally

April 14th, 2007 11:06 pm by Associated Press

TORONTO - B.J. Ryan is one tough closer, even when he doesn't have his best stuff. That just made Marcus Thames' clutch hit Saturday all the more sweeter for the Detroit Tigers.

Thames hit a go-ahead, two-run double off Ryan in the ninth inning to help the Tigers rally for a 10-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.

Toronto led 7-6 when Ryan issued consecutive walks to Gary Sheffield, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen with one out in the ninth. Thames, pinch hitting for Sean Casey, then dropped a broken-bat double into left field to give the Tigers the lead.

"(Ryan) is sneaky, he's got tough stuff," said Thames, whose hit came on an 0-2 pitch. "He hit my bat just in the right spot for me and the ball fell in there.

"It was awesome," he added. "That's the way we won a lot of ballgames last year, coming back towards the end. You don't want to win them all like that but sometimes it takes winning games like that to be a good ballclub."

Thames was surprised by Ryan's wildness.

"I've never seen him like that," he said. "He's a tough guy but he was just leaving the ball up a little bit more than I've ever seen."

Craig Monroe drove in a run with a fielder's choice and Thames scored on Royce Clayton's fielding error as Detroit chased Ryan (0-2), who blew his second save in five chances.

"There's no excuse for that," Ryan said. "I was just missing a lot, throwing he ball up in the zone."

Todd Jones closed it out for his sixth save in as many opportunities.

"You don't win those very often, especially with B.J. Ryan," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "You're not going to get him very often. We were fortunate today. I didn't like our chances to be honest with you but if you keep playing, you've got a chance and that proved to be right."

Leyland also praised reliever Jason Grilli, who worked three scoreless innings to keep the Tigers close.

"Grilli won the game for us in my opinion," he said. "If I was a teammate and not a manager, I'd take him out to eat tonight."

Vernon Wells hit a three-run drive, Alex Rios had a two-run shot and Lyle Overbay a solo homer for the Blue Jays, who blew leads of 4-0, 6-4 and 7-6.

Inge hit a two-run homer for the Tigers, who avoided their first losing streak of the season.

The Tigers tied it at 6 in the eighth against reliever Jason Frasor. Monroe doubled off the top of the center-field wall and scored when Curtis Granderson hit a broken-bat single to left.

Overbay then led off the bottom half with a drive to center off Wilfredo Ledezma (2-0) for his first homer of the season.

CLEVELAND - Paul Byrd pitched six sharp innings in his first official start of the season for the Indians.

Byrd (1-0) had come within one strike of an abbreviated no-hitter on April 6. That was Cleveland's scheduled home opener - which was snowed out with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and the Indians leading the Seattle Mariners 4-0.

Ironically, Byrd's first pitch against the White Sox was a called strike - exactly what he needed eight days earlier to make it an official game in a swirling snow at Jacobs Field.

Ryan Garko and Josh Barfield connected for their first homers in the second inning off Chicago rookie John Danks (0-2) to put Cleveland ahead 2-0.

Byrd allowed five hits, struck out five and walked two.

Joe Borowski retired Darin Erstad on a foul popup with runners on second and third in the ninth for his fourth save in four chances.

BOSTON - Curt Schilling pitched eight innings to extend his scoreless streak to 14, and David Ortiz hit a three-run homer for the Red Sox.

Schilling (2-1) allowed four hits, struck out four and walked one to pick up his second consecutive win. He gave up five runs in four innings on opening day and a first-inning homer in his next start, but has not allowed a run since then to drop his ERA from 11.25 to 2.84.

Schilling yielded just five baserunners, and none of them made it to third. Brendan Donnelly gave up a hit in the ninth.

Ortiz hit his third homer of the year and drove in four runs, lining a shot to straightaway center off Greg Jones in the eighth to make it 8-0.

Hector Carrasco (0-1) allowed three runs - one earned - and two hits with six walks in 3 1-3 innings for the Angels.

SEATTLE - Miguel Batista pitched into the seventh inning, Adrian Beltre hit his first homer of the season and the Mariners overcame Rangers slugger Sammy Sosa's 590th career homer.

Sosa hit his second homer since 2005 - a two-run shot in the sixth inning - but Batista (1-1) otherwise handled the Rangers' potent lineup. Batista allowed three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Vicente Padilla (0-3) pitched six innings for Texas but remained winless.

MINNEAPOLIS - Michael Cuddyer had four hits and two RBIs and Sidney Ponson won for the first time in almost a year.

Torii Hunter also drove in three runs and Justin Morneau two for the Twins, who had scored 16 runs in their last seven games.

Tampa Bay starter Edwin Jackson (0-2), who posted a solid 1.74 ERA during the spring and was effective in his first start against Texas, gave up five runs - four earned - in three innings, walking five and allowing three hits.

Ponson (1-1) scattered eight hits and yielded two runs over 5 1-3 innings while striking out six.

BALTIMORE - Chris Gomez hit a grand slam in the sixth inning, and Baltimore rallied to hand Kansas City its fourth straight loss.

It was the second career grand slam for Gomez, a utility player who started the night with only eight at-bats this season. The home run, on a 3-1 pitch from reliever Joel Peralta (0-1), erased Baltimore's 4-2 deficit.

Scott Williamson (1-0) earned his first win with Baltimore with an inning of one-hit relief. John Parrish struck out the side in the seventh, Jamie Walker worked a perfect eighth and Chris Ray got three outs for his third save.

Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera allowed four runs, three earned, and seven hits in five innings. The right-hander struck out five, walked one and hit two batters with pitches.

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