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August 5, 2009

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Thomas' homer caps Tigers comeback win over Orioles

DETROIT outfielder Clete Thomas smacked a two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth to complete a stirring 6-5 comeback victory for the Tigers over the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

The Orioles raced out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning but the resolute Tigers chipped away at the deficit to tie the game by the bottom of the fifth before Thomas capped the scoring to increase Detroit's lead in the American League Central to two games.

Baltimore shocked Detroit ace Justin Verlander (12-5) by scoring all its runs in the first inning before the pitcher, the American League leader in strikeouts, settled down to keep the Orioles subdued for the next seven innings.

"He's coming of age," Tigers manager Jim Leyland told reporters. "That shows you tonight why he's a horse. He's one of the best pitchers in baseball. They shell-shocked him right off the bat, but he gathered himself."

Verlander wound up allowing nine hits with eight strikeouts and one walk.

"I think in the past, I would have fallen apart," Verlander said. "It's mostly mental. In this one, I was able to settle down, make economical pitches and last eight (innings). Our hitters came through and picked me up and this was a fantastic win for this ballclub."

Brian Roberts led off the game with a home run and the next three Baltimore hitters singled to load the bases. Luke Scott's two-run double completed the productive first inning for the Orioles but that was all they could muster off Verlander.

Detroit answered back with three runs in the first on an RBI double by Placido Polanco and a two-run double from Miguel Cabrera.

Roughed up

"The first inning, both ways, was the key to the game," Leyland said.

"Obviously they roughed up Verlander, they came out aggressive and they got him. You've got to tip your cap to them, but I think that we came right back. Even if we had just gotten two (runs), you feel good about it."

Ramon Santiago had an RBI single in the fourth and the Tigers then tied the game in the fifth on a solo homer by Cabrera.

Fernando Rodney (2-2) pitched a perfect ninth for the win while Danys Baez (2-3) allowed the walk-off homer in the ninth to take the loss, the Orioles' fourth straight defeat and 13th in the last 17 games.

In Oakland, California, pinch-hitter Rajai Davis tripled down the right field line to drive in two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and lift the Oakland Athletics to a 3-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.

C.J. Wilson (4-5) blew his third save in 16 chances after allowing singles to Jack Cust, Tommy Everidge and Mark Ellis, before Davis' triple. Mike Wuertz (6-1) pitched 1 1-3 innings to earn the win.

In St Petersburg, Florida, Carl Crawford had three hits and three RBIs to lead Tampa Bay 10-4 past Kansas City.


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