Inge, Infante, Pudge have three hits each

DETROIT (AP) -- Jason Johnson has become a stalwart starter, capable of keeping the Detroit Tigers in any game. That's exactly the kind of pitcher Kirk Rueter used to be for the San Francisco Giants.

Brandon Inge hit a leadoff homer and a two-run double and Johnson recovered from a rough opening to pitch eight strong innings in the Tigers' 8-2 victory Saturday night.

Inge, Omar Infante and Ivan Rodriguez had three hits apiece for the Tigers, who got their fourth victory in five games. One day
after San Francisco's Jason Schmidt shut out Detroit 4-0, the Tigers pounded out 14 hits -- two shy of their season high -- against Rueter and the Giants.

But Johnson (5-5) didn't really need so much help. After allowing two runs in the first inning thanks to his own throwing error, the right-hander rarely faced trouble.

"My arm feels really good this year, and I'm confident throwing everything in my repertoire," Johnson said. "The way we're pitching into the seventh inning every night with our starters is terrific, and it's going to help us win more ballgames."

Johnson allowed nine hits and three walks but pitched at least eight innings for the sixth time in his last seven full starts.

"He should have more wins than he has," Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. "That's what you're looking for out of your starters -- give you seven or eight innings. He's a different pitcher this year."

While Johnson cruised, the Tigers got 11 hits off Rueter (2-6), who has just one win in nine starts since April. Taking the mound in Detroit for the first time in his 13-year career, the beleaguered left-hander allowed at least two baserunners in every inning, gave up six runs and couldn't get an out in the fifth.

"Every ball it seemed I threw, it fell in," Rueter said. "They got two-out hits and scored those extra runs. The last few [starts], I've got two outs and can't get that last one. It's been one of those things. ... It's hard to get in a good rhythm when you're always pitching out of the stretch."

Detroit scored four runs in the fifth against Rueter and reliever Brandon Puffer, who made his San Francisco debut. Inge capped the rally with a two-run double off Puffer, who recovered to retire his final 11 hitters.

But the Giants must be getting worried about Rueter, their most durable starter since 1996.

"His stuff has been kind of flat," manager Felipe Alou said. "He's always going to throw the same velocity, [but] at times, there's a sink to the fastball that I haven't seen in the last couple of starts.

"We're going to run him out there [again] in five days. We don't have any off days, so he'll be there," Alou said.

Rondell White also hit a first-inning homer for Detroit, and Chris Shelton drove in two runs.

J.T. Snow had three hits for the Giants, who got 12 hits but stranded 12 runners.

Both franchises have roots in their respective leagues' founding days near the turn of the 20th century, but the Giants had never played in Detroit before this weekend. Comerica Park was packed with 38,461 fans, mostly because they bought tickets last winter expecting injured slugger Barry Bonds to be in San Francisco's lineup.

The Giants scored two runs in the first when Johnson's poor throw to second base ruined what should have been an inning-ending double play.

But Inge hit Rueter's second pitch more than 420 feet into the shrubs beyond center field. After a similarly powerful homer toc enter on Tuesday against San Diego, the 5-foot-11 contact hitter didn't know how to explain it.

"It was every bit of power I have," Inge said with a grin.

Two batters later, White hit his first homer in two weeks to right-center.

In the second, Infante ended an 0-for-17 skid with a double that landed right on the padded top of the outfield wall. He scored on a single by Placido Polanco, who took Infante's starting job at second base when he joined the Tigers 10 days ago in a trade with Philadelphia.

"Right now I'm not playing every day, and this gave me a chance to show what I can do," said Infante, who had his first multihit game since May 18 while playing shortstop for the first time this season. "I want to show I belong and thats what I did."

Game notes
Inge's leadoff homer was his third of the season and his career. ... Puffer was a non-roster invitee to spring training. His contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno on Friday when LaTroy Hawkins went on the DL. ... Pistons coach Larry Brown attended the game. His team plays Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.