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Halter's blast extends win streak to three

9/26/2003

DETROIT (AP) -- Looking as if they had clinched a playoff spot,
the Detroit Tigers mobbed Shane Halter when he crossed home plate.

Halter hit a two-out, solo home run in the 11th inning and the
suddenly successful Tigers snapped Minnesota's 11-game winning
streak with a 5-4 victory Thursday night.

With their third straight win, the Tigers would have to lose
their final three games of the season to break the post-1900 record
of 120 defeats by the 1962 New York Mets.

"A walkoff home run in the situation we're in right now is
big," said Halter, whose head was cut by a teammate during the
raucous celebration. "We've got to win a couple games and we won't
get the record.

"When you win, you're supposed to celebrate."

The Tigers (41-118) set the AL record for losses on Monday night
with their 10th consecutive setback. Since then, they have not
lost.

Detroit has won three straight for the first time since winning
the final three of a four-game series against Cleveland from Sept.
2-4.

Halter was also instrumental in that streak, hitting an
11th-inning, game-winning homer against the Indians on Sept. 3.

Chris Mears (1-3) earned his first major league victory after
pitching two innings of scoreless relief. Brad Thomas (0-1) took
the loss.

Minnesota, which clinched its second straight AL Central title
Tuesday, had just two of its regulars -- Matthew LeCroy and Luis
Rivas -- in the lineup and they didn't play the entire game. LeCroy
was replaced in the sixth, and Rivas came out the next inning.

Manager Ron Gardenhire, who plans to "sprinkle in" his
regulars over the final three games of the season, also pulled
Johan Santana after he pitched five shutout innings.

Gardenhire said he did not consider putting some of his key
players in the game.

"We had the guys in the game that we wanted," he said. "Our
young guys can play and they deserve to get these at-bats. I'm not
going to kill someone by putting them in when it is this cold when
they have been sitting around all night. Our guys got some rest,
and they needed it. This has been a long, tough season."

Alan Trammell managed the Tigers after missing the previous two
games to attend his mother's funeral in San Diego.

"Was it difficult to come back? Heck yes, it was," Trammell
said. "My mind is still wandering."

The Tigers came back from a 1-0 deficit with a three-run
seventh. After they blew their lead in the eighth, Craig Monroe hit
a solo homer off Juan Rincon in the bottom half of the inning to
tie the game at 4.

Justin Morneau gave the Twins a 4-3 lead with a two-run homer in
a three-run eighth.

Detroit's Matt Anderson, who relieved Nate Robertson after he
gave up one run in seven innings, walked two batters and got only
one out in the eighth. Rob Bowen hit a sacrifice fly against
Fernando Rodney, who also gave up a 439-foot homer to Morneau.

Santana, who will start Game 1 of the AL division series against
the New York Yankees, is 8-0 over his last 12 starts. He gave up
just two hits and one walk while striking out three Thursday.

Minnesota's Lew Ford singled and scored on LeCroy's single in
the third.

Bobby Higginson tied the game at 1 in the seventh with a
pinch-hit RBI groundout against Grant Balfour, who also allowed
Ramon Santiago's double.

Just 9,296 fans came to Comerica Park for the game, but those
who showed up on the cool night rose to their feet when Santiago
gave the Tigers the lead in the eighth and did again after the
win.

Game notes
Bowen's sacrifice fly was his first major league RBI. ...
Morneau's homer was the longest at Comerica Park this season.