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Detroit's Bonderman earns first major league win

4/24/2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- It'd be difficult to invent tougher
circumstances than the ones Jeremy Bonderman faced on Wednesday
night -- and afterward, he couldn't really explain how he overcame
them for his first major league win.

Bonderman retired 17 straight batters as the Detroit Tigers got
their second victory in 19 games, beating the Oakland Athletics
4-1.

Just how unlikely was Bonderman's spectacular eight-inning
performance?

He had an 0-3 record and a 10.22 ERA entering his fourth major
league start on the road for the worst team in baseball. The
20-year-old rookie was facing the elite A's, who traded him last
year.

Last but not least, the opposing pitcher was AL Cy Young Award
winner Barry Zito, who loses at home about once a year.

"Zito is an unbelievable pitcher, one of the best, but I'm not
going to be scared of him," Bonderman said. "I was on my game and
threw the ball well. I hope we take this into the next game. ...
You take every game seriously and want to win every game. I'm just
happy we were successful."

Craig Monroe hit a two-run homer off Zito (3-2) for the Tigers,
whose only other win was 4-3 over the Chicago White Sox on April
12. The team is still off to the worst 19-game start in club
history, but nobody cared in the Tigers' clubhouse, where Detroit
manager Alan Trammell sipped a victory beer for the first time all
season.

"I could get used to this," Trammell said. "It's still April,
and this is one win, but now I'd like to win tomorrow and win a
series. ... Regardless of our record, we haven't played that bad.
We haven't had a whole lot of leads."

Bonderman (1-3), traded to the Tigers by Oakland last year, was
nearly unhittable as Detroit stopped its eight-game losing streak
by beating Zito, who lost for just the second time in his last 32
starts at the Coliseum.

Bonderman allowed three hits and didn't walk a batter, striking
out five. After consecutive singles by Jermaine Dye and Terrence
Long in the second, Bonderman retired every batter he faced until
Long's one-out triple in the eighth. Ramon Hernandez drove home
Long with a groundout.

"There's not much we're going to do when you only get three
hits," Oakland manager Ken Macha said. "(Bonderman) got ahead
throwing strikes. His fastball was moving. We knew he was a good
pitcher."

Bonderman, once rated the A's top pitching prospect, was part of
the three-team trade that sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees and
brought Ted Lilly to Oakland.

Matt Anderson, the least-used closer in baseball, pitched the
ninth for his second save. He wasn't sharp, but Bobby Higginson
reached over the right field fence to steal a two-run homer from
Scott Hatteberg.

Monroe hit his fourth career homer in the fourth inning, a
two-run drive to deep center in the cavernous Coliseum. He had gone
1-for-12 this season since last Friday's callup to the Tigers, who
claimed him off waivers from Texas in February.

Zito wasn't sharp, allowing five hits in seven innings and
walking the bases loaded in the second. His previous home loss also
was against Detroit, when Mark Redman outpitched him last Aug. 2.

"If I did my job correctly, we'd have probably walked out of
here with a win," Zito said. ``(Relaxing against a losing team) is
a trap that a lot of guys fall into, to let up. But these guys are
big league hitters.

"There's a sting because I gave up some runs and made some bad
pitches. They're off to a bad start, but that doesn't mean they're
not capable of beating a big-league team."

Dean Palmer added a two-run double against reliever Jim Mecir in
the eighth for the Tigers, who won a road game for the first time
in 11 tries this season.

The top of the third inning had no scoring, but plenty of
entertainment value. First, Terrence Long slid to catch Higginson's
fly to left, juggling it three times with both hands before finally
corralling it.

Zito then made a diving catch on Eugene Kingsale's bunt, and
Craig Paquette was later called out at first base even though
Hatteberg's foot might have come off the bag, sparking an argument
from Trammell.

Game notes
The Tigers had lost six straight to Oakland. ... Before the
game, Oakland activated Mecir, who had offseason knee surgery. LHP
Micah Bowie, who was struggling, was designated for assignment. ...
Monroe started in left field because Trammell benched struggling
infielders Eric Munson and Carlos Pena. Dmitri Young, the regular
left fielder, took over for Munson at third base.

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