Detroit heads home for opener cushioned by 5-1 start

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Texas' Brad Wilkerson knows why he's
struck out in 14 of 32 at-bats this season. He's simply swinging at
too many bad pitches.

He sure picked a good one with the game on the line Sunday.

Wilkerson hit an 0-2 hanging curveball from Kenny Rogers off the
wall in right-center field, breaking a sixth-inning tie with a
two-run double and sending the Rangers past Detroit 5-3 for the
Tigers' first loss this season.

Wilkerson had struck out in six of his previous seven at-bats,
including three straight against Rogers in this game, before
finally putting the ball in play with runners on the corners with
one out and the score tied 3-3. Despite the big hit, he struck out
again in the eighth, making him 1-for-5 with four Ks on the day.

"I'm swinging at everything," Wilkerson said. "It's a matter
of calming down, getting relaxed and looking for a pitch in the
strike zone. ... Once I get more comfortable, more relaxed at the
plate, I'm going to see the ball in the strike zone and have a
better chance to hit it."

Although Wilkerson has a shoulder injury that forces him to
strap on a huge ice pack after every game and he's adjusting to the
AL after five seasons in the NL, he's not making any excuses for
his .188 start as Texas' new leadoff hitter.

"It's about concentration, about doing the right things up
there and being mentally prepared for each at-bat," said
Wilkerson, who was acquired in the trade that sent Alfonso Soriano
to Washington. "It's early in the season. We'll see what happens.
I'm just going to work as hard as I can to get my swing where it
needs to be to improve and help this team win ballgames."

Rogers, who refused to talk to most members of the Texas media
during a contentious 2005 season with the Rangers, kept it up after
this game. He sent away a local-based Associated Press writer,
insisting on speaking only to Tigers beat writers.

When told the AP is a national media outlet, Rogers said: "It
doesn't matter. See ya."

The left-hander wasted a 2-0 lead by giving up three runs in the
third. Detroit came right back and tied it in the fourth, but
Rogers (1-1) blew it by allowing hits to the final three batters he

"Kenny gave us a shot," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We
didn't do anything wrong. They just played a little better than we

Rogers allowed five runs and 12 hits with five strikeouts and a
walk over 5 1-3 innings. When introduced in the first inning, he
was greeted with a mixture of boos and cheers, with the boos
slightly louder.

Vicente Padilla (2-0) wasn't as sharp as he'd been in his Texas
debut, but was able to get enough outs to avoid the fourth 1-6
start in franchise history. He gave up three runs and seven hits
over six innings, walking three and striking out three. Acquired
from Philadelphia during the winter for the since-released Ricardo
Rodriguez, Padilla has both of the Rangers' wins thus far.

"Padilla was effectively wild," Leyland said.

It was good enough that Texas manager Buck Showalter finished
the game exactly the way he wants for the first time this season,
going with Antonio Alfonseca in the seventh, Akinori Otsuka in the
eighth and Francisco Cordero in the ninth. They combined to allow
only one hit, striking out four, with Cordero retiring the side in
order for his first save.

Gerald Laird and Ian Kinsler, the last two hitters in the
Rangers' lineup, each had two hits and scored twice. They both
singled in the sixth, setting up Wilkerson's go-ahead hit. Michael
Young, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Mench also had two hits.

Despite the loss, Detroit still heads into its home opener
Monday against the Chicago White Sox off to a great start.

"It's just one loss," said Craig Monroe, who had a pair of
doubles and scored twice. "We're 5-1. We feel great about going

Chris Shelton had been powering the Tigers, but he slowed
Sunday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, dropping his average
from .700 to .583. Curtis Granderson went 2-for-2 with two walks,
driving in a run and scoring once.

Game notes
The Tigers haven't made an error, their longest clean
streak to open a season since 1994. ... Texas avoided its first
four-game sweep at home by Detroit. ... This was the Tigers' final
game in Arlington this season. The teams don't meet again until
Aug. 17-20 and Sept. 12-13, both series at Detroit. ... Tigers
starters won the team's first five games, something last done by
the club in 1911, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. It last
happened in the majors by the 1999 Boston Red Sox.