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Tigers keep falling to new lows

9/19/2003

DETROIT (AP) -- Detroit Tigers manager Alan Trammell knows his
team is on the verge of major league history.

The Tigers lost their 114th game, the fifth-highest total ever,
falling to the Toronto Blue Jays 10-6 Thursday night as Mike Maroth
became the first pitcher in 29 years to lose 21 games.

"We are just about out of gas right now," Trammell said. "We
are having a lot of trouble putting nine innings together and
keeping a team down. Some of that is due to inexperience, but a lot
of it is because of the losing. That wears on you. We've got 10
games left, and we have to find a way to get through this."

Detroit (38-114) was swept in a series for the 20th time this
season, matching the Tigers' total last year. The Tigers have lost
six straight, including three against Toronto, their 10th losing
streak of six or more games this season.

Their goal is to split their final 10 games and avoid matching
the post-1900 record for losses in a season.

"We've just got to finish as strong as we can," Shane Halter
said. "If we break the record or if we don't, we at least can know
we gave it everything we've got."

The only teams with more losses are the 1935 Boston Braves
(38-115), 1916 Philadelphia Athletics (36-117), 1962 New York Mets
(40-120) and 1899 Cleveland Spiders (20-134).

Seven of Detroit's final 10 games are against Minnesota, the AL
Central leader, and three are against Kansas City, a team still in
contention.

"Obviously, we never expected to have 38 wins on this date, but
we can't dwell on that," Trammell said. "Even if the number was
39 or 44 or even 56, we would still know that we have an awful lot
left to do. Nothing is going to change that."

Maroth (7-21) allowed seven runs and eight hits in 5 1-3
innings. He is the first 21-game loser since 1974, when Mickey
Lolich lost 21, and Bill Bonham, Randy Jones and Steve Rogers lost
22.

"I really don't have an explanation for this season," Maroth
said. "We are just going to keep trying and hope we can win a few
games in these last 10 days."

Josh Towers (7-1) allowed four runs and five hits in six
innings, struck out six and walked one. Dan Reichert and Cliff
Politte finished the six-hitter.

"It was a bit of a battle tonight," Towers said. "My arm felt
good, but I just wasn't locating the ball. I was leaving a lot of
pitches over the plate and falling behind a lot, which isn't good.
I had to battle through that."

Ramon Santiago drove in a career-high four runs for Detroit.

Toronto put together five straight singles with two outs in the
first, the last three producing RBI for Josh Phelps, Bobby Kielty
and Mike Bordick. Reed Johnson homered for a 4-0 lead in the
second.

"They weren't crushing the ball -- they found a hole five
straight times," Maroth said. "That was very strange, but it is
the type of thing that has happened all season."

Santiago hit a two-run single in the bottom half, and Kevin Witt
made it 4-3 in the fourth with a 437-foot homer over the
right-center field scoreboard.

Toronto scored three runs in the sixth on Dave Berg's RBI
single, Kevin Cash's safety squeeze bunt and Johnson's run-scoring
single off Chris Mears.

"Reed had some great at-bats tonight," Toronto manager Carlos
Tosca said. "He's a good little player and he has a lot of
confidence, which you like to see in a young guy."

Carlos Pena hit an RBI single in the bottom half as Detroit
closed to 7-4. Vernon Wells hit a three-run homer in the ninth, his
34th of the season, off Jamie Walker.

Santiago hit a two-run double in the ninth off Politte.

Game notes
Toronto's two homers were the 38th and 39th this season
that cleared the new fence in left field but fell short of the old
one. Visitors have hit 21, including six off Maroth. ... The homer
extended Johnson's hitting streak to a career-best 15 games, the
longest by a rookie in team history. ... The other three teams to
lose 114 or more games after 1900 were managed by Hall of Famers --
Connie Mack, Bill McKechnie and Casey Stengel. ... Eric Hinske
struck out in his first four at-bats.