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Tigers help Twins clinch AL Central

9/24/2003

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers knew that half a continent away, their manager was happy for them.

With Alan Trammell in California for his mother's funeral, the
Tigers got three home runs and several clutch plays to beat Kansas City 15-6 Tuesday night in a ragged game that kept them two defeats
from the post-1900 major league record

"I wish Tram could be here," said Mike Maroth, who went five
innings as the Tigers stopped a 10-game losing streak.

"With everything we've gone through this year, and this being
our biggest margin -- I just wish he could be here."

Warren Morris, Craig Monroe and A.J. Hinch all homered for the
Tigers (39-118), who still must win four of their last five to
avoid tying the 1962 New York Mets at 120 losses.

Detroit's 118th loss against the Royals on Monday night
surpassed the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics for the most defeats in
AL history.

"We didn't always hit the ball hard. But we put them in play
instead of striking out," said Larry Parrish, the Triple-A Toledo
manager, who was filling in for Trammell.

Kansas City's loss combined with Minnesota's victory over
Cleveland eliminated the Royals from the AL Central race.

Still, one year after losing a franchise-record 100 games, they had shocked almost everyone by staying in contention until the final week of the season and re-igniting baseball interest in their town.

"We're a little down right now with Minnesota clinching,"
third baseman Joe Randa said. "When the season is over and we look
back and reflect, we'll see it's been a pretty good year."

Every starter in each lineup got at least one hit. Every Tigers
starter had at least one RBI and all but one scored as Detroit rang
up its highest run total in more than two years. Omar Infante was 4-for-6 with three runs scored.

The crowd booed when catcher Mike DiFelice simply stood at the
plate and took a relay throw as Infante slid home in the seventh
with Detroit's 15th run.

Maroth (8-21) went five innings and gave up six runs on 10 hits,
with a walk and two strikeouts.

Detroit hadn't won since Sept. 12, when Maroth shut out Kansas
City 3-0 and made the Royals the first team in 29 years to lose to
a 20-game loser.

"We've got to take it game-by-game at this point," Maroth
said. "The biggest thing for us is if we go out there and give it
everything we have, when the season's over we won't second-guess
ourselves."

Dmitri Young's RBI double keyed a three-run fourth inning that
chased starter Jose Lima (8-2) and gave the Tigers a 7-2 lead.

But Ken Harvey homered leading off the bottom of the fourth, and
with two out and the bases loaded, Rondell White hit Maroth's 3-2
pitch for a two-run single.

Next, in one of those goofy plays these Tigers will be
remembered for, Maroth threw to first and caught White off the bag.

But first baseman Carlos Pena threw across to third baseman
Infante as Carlos Beltran started home. Infante's throw to the
plate sailed over Hinch's head as Beltran scored to make it 7-6.

Then back came the Tigers, loading the bases with no outs in the
fourth on bunt singles to first, second and third.

"I don't think I've ever seen that one," a grinning Parrish
said.

After Morris' infield out made it 8-6, Monroe hit a three-run
homer off Kris Wilson.

"That was big," Parrish said. "They had closed the gap, and
Maroth was struggling."

The Tigers made it 13-6 in the second on Ramon Santiago's RBI
double and a sacrifice fly by Alex Sanchez.

Hinch homered off Brad Voyles in the seventh.

Morris homered in the first for the Tigers, then Angel Berroa
homered leading off for the Royals.

Sanchez and Andres Torres had RBI singles in the second, and
Infante hit an RBI single in the third. DiFelice had an RBI single
in the third.

"We did some things pretty well tonight," Parrish said.

Then pitching coach Bob Cluck stuck his head in the room,
holding a cell phone to his ear and grinning broadly.

"Skipper says, 'Nice going,'" he said.

Game notes
It was Detroit's highest run total since scoring 19 against
Texas on Aug. 8, 2001. The 18 hits were their most since getting 19
on July 26th, 2002. ... Royals DH Mike Sweeney was not in the
lineup because of discomfort in his neck and upper back. It's the
same area that kept him out of the lineup for several weeks
earlier. ... Royals RHP Paul Abbott will miss his final start
Saturday night with a strained muscle in his side. Jamey Wright
will take his place. ... Detroit OF Bobby Higginson was suspended
for two games after his ejection Sept. 16 against Toronto.
... Tigers hitting coach Bruce Fields is away from the team until
Thursday because of the death of a close friend. ... Berroa tied
the Royals' record of 16 hit-by-pitches set by Mike MacFarland in
1994. Berroa is four shy of the major league rookie record.