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Texas completes sweep of Tigers

DETROIT (AP) -- The Texas Rangers are back in first place, and
they know they can thank their bullpen.

Three Texas relievers combined for three shutout innings
Thursday and the surprising Rangers beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 to
complete a three-game sweep. The win, combined with Oakland's loss
in New York, put the Rangers a half-game ahead of the Athletics in
the AL West.

"We're very confident in our bullpen right now," said Alfonso
Soriano, who hit a tiebreaking homer in the sixth. "We know that
90 percent of the time, the game is over once those guys are in
there."

Texas relievers pitched 7 1-3 scoreless innings in the series.

"In the offseason, we targeted bullpen depth for this reason,"
Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "It's nice to see it coming
together like this."

Ron Mahay and Carlos Almanzar each pitched a scoreless inning
before Francisco Cordero got three outs for his 33rd save in 35
tries, sending the Tigers to their fourth consecutive loss.

"This season has been like a dream come true for me," said
Cordero, who started his career with Detroit. "But it isn't just
me -- it is the starters who get it to the 'pen, and the other guys
who get it to the ninth inning for me. That's why we are in first
place."

Starting pitcher Ryan Drese (8-6) allowed one run on six hits
and three walks in six innings to win for the fourth time in five
starts.

"Let's not forget that, without Ryan, none of what the bullpen
did today would have mattered," Showalter said. "He did a great
job."

The sweep was the Rangers' third on the road this year, the
first time they have had that many since 1999. They had lost seven
of nine entering the series.

"You really have to give them a lot of credit," said Ivan
Rodriguez, who spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the
Rangers. "They are hitting the ball well, they are catching it
well and they are pitching it well."

Detroit loaded the bases in the eighth, but Almanzar retired
Bobby Higginson to end the inning.

"We had some chances, but we couldn't get the big hits,"
Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. "We only scored five runs in
the whole series -- we aren't hitting the ball and we aren't scoring
runs."

Esteban Yan (1-3) lost in relief of starter Wilfredo Ledezma,
who pitched five innings. He allowed one run on two hits and two
walks.

Yan replaced Ledezma to start the sixth and allowed Soriano's
21st homer of the season, a one-out drive into the right-field
bullpen.

Soriano finished 3-for-4, adding a single and a triple.

Texas loaded the bases with one out in the first, but Brian
Jordan grounded into an inning-ending double play. The Tigers took
a 1-0 lead in the bottom half on Rodriguez's RBI single.

Detroit had the bases loaded in the second, but Alex Sanchez
tapped weakly back to Drese.

The Rangers tied the game in the fourth. Soriano struck out, but
reached when Rodriguez couldn't handle Ledezma's wild pitch. Mark
Teixeira grounded into a fielder's choice, went to third on
Jordan's double and scored on Hank Blalock's sacrifice fly to
shallow left.

Game notes
Soriano's homer was his 20th of the year as a second
baseman. He is just the 12th second baseman to have three 20-homer
seasons in his career, and the sixth to do it three years in a row.
... The Rangers placed RHP Jeff Nelson (elbow) on the 15-day
disabled list, retroactive to Aug. 1, and recalled RHP Ryan Snare
from Triple-A Oklahoma. ... In addition to the bases-loaded
groundout, Sanchez had a rough fifth inning. He came up with a
runner on first and none out, bunted into a force at second, then
was thrown out stealing.