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Kingman's voodoo doll doesn't work

9/6/2003

TORONTO (AP) -- Mike Maroth is determined to not let the label
"20-game loser" hurt his career.

Maroth became the first major league pitcher in 23 years to lose
20 games in a season as the Detroit Tigers lost to the Toronto Blue
Jays 8-6 on Friday night.

"I'm a strong person. I'm going to overcome this. I know
that," he said. "Hopefully, next year and the rest of this year
I'll be able to prove that."

Maroth (6-20) allowed eight runs and nine hits in three-plus
innings, becoming the first 20-game loser since Oakland's Brian
Kingman went 8-20 in 1980.

Before the game, Maroth learned that his grandmother passed
away, but he insisted on pitching.

"I have no regrets about the way I pitched tonight," he said.
"I went out there with everything I had. I didn't pitch well, but
at least I can sleep good knowing that I gave it everything I had.
Mentally, I was fine."

Maroth said he appreciated the support of his family and
teammates.

"It's a tough time for me," he said. "For them to be there
and support me, that's what a true teammate is."

Teammate Dmitri Young felt he let Maroth down.

"I failed him," Young said. "He's dealing with a lot right
now. I'm not going to mention it. He's a better man than most of
us. For him to come out here and forget about everything and pitch
for the team, I felt I failed him."

Kingman, who wanted to remain baseball's last 20-game loser,
attended the game and brought a voodoo doll with him. It's the same
doll he took to four other starts in which a major league pitcher
could have lost his 20th game but didn't.

"I just don't want Mike to lose," Kingman said before the
game.

Maroth wasted 2-0 and 5-2 leads as Kingman kept his doll --
nicknamed "The King" -- by his feet. Asked if he would destroy the
doll if Maroth lost, Kingman said: "He'll be 4-1. That's a whole
lot better than I was, so I'm going to keep him."

Kingman had watched Omar Daal and Albie Lopez avoid becoming
20-game losers. The 49-year-old Phoenix native chatted and joked
with reporters throughout the game.

Detroit (37-103) needs at least six wins in its final 22 games
to avoid matching the post-1900 record of 120 losses in a season,
set by the 1962 New York Mets.

"I think Mike is going to be fine," Detroit manager Alan
Trammell said. "We're trying to win games. That's the bottom line.
We're trying to win. We've got over things that people are bringing
our attention to."

Toronto ended the Tigers' fourth three-game winning streak of
the season despite a poor start by Mark Hendrickson, who allowed
five runs and seven hits in three innings.

Tanyon Sturtze (7-6), who went 4-18 for Tampa Bay last season,
pitched three innings for the win. Aquilino Lopez pitched the ninth
for his ninth save.

Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca served a one-game suspension,
assessed for spraying spit on umpire Tim Timmons during an argument
in Boston last week. First base coach John Gibbons managed the
team.

Gibbons once coached Maroth in the Arizona Fall League.

"I feel for the guy," Gibbons said. "Twenty losses is not
indicative of the pitcher he his. I know he'll learn something from
this."

Craig Monroe's two-run homer gave Detroit a 2-0 lead in the
first, but Toronto's Eric Hinske tied it with a two-run shot in the
second. Monroe's RBI single and Carlos Pena's two-run single made
it 5-2 in the third.

Toronto's Josh Phelps cut it 5-4 with a two-run homer off
Maroth.

The Blue Jays scored four runs in the fourth as Maroth failed to
get an out. Dave Berg led off with a single, Kevin Cash hit a
double and Reed Johnson followed with a two-run single. Mike
Bordick chased Maroth with an RBI double that gave Toronto a 7-5
lead, and Carlos Delgado hit an RBI grounder off Matthew Roney.

Brandon Inge's run-scoring single cut it to 8-6 in the sixth.

Game notes
The Tigers' Jeremy Bonderman, who is 6-18, was removed from
the starting rotation Wednesday by Trammell. ... Detroit's Bobby
Higginson didn't start because of a sore left hamstring but pinch
hit in the ninth. Trammell didn't want him playing on SkyDome's
artificial turf.