Rodriguez's Slam Lifts Tigers Over Royals

Tuesday, April 17th 2007, 7:29 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) _ Justin Verlander doesn't usually get bored during his starts.

Monday was an exception.

After pitching a scoreless first inning, Verlander had to wait 35 minutes for the Tigers to bat around while scoring four runs in the bottom half.

``That took forever,'' said Verlander, who spent most of the time in the clubhouse watching the game on TV. ``I kept asking if (Zack) Greinke was pitching really slowly or if it was just me.''

Greinke never made it out of the inning _ he left after allowing Ivan Rodriguez's grand slam and facing eight batters _ but the Detroit offensive surge almost cost Verlander as well in the Tigers' 12-5 victory.

Verlander resorted to playing catch in an indoor batting cage with backup catcher Mike Rabelo, then allowed two runs on three Kansas City doubles in the second.

Luckily for Verlander and the Tigers, it was just a blip on what turned out to be an easy night. Detroit scored three more runs in the second _ two on a double by Rodriguez.

``You don't want to use a big inning as an excuse, but that certainly could have been a factor,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``He settled down after that inning and pitched very well.''

In other games, Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 9-7 and Boston defeated Los Angeles 7-2.

Kansas City was impressed by Verlander's recovery and overall ability.

``He has electric stuff,'' said John Buck. ``He gets his fastball up to 101, and then he threw me a changeup that was like 84 or 85, and then there's the breaking ball. You can see why the league's having a tough time with him.''

Verlander and Greinke were both off to good starts this season, but the expected battle between two young aces never developed. Greinke entered 6-0 in his last eight meetings with Detroit, but ended up with the shortest outing _ two-thirds of an inning _ of his 60-start big league career.

``A lot of it was good hitting, but most of it was just bad pitching,'' he said. ``I have to work on that, but I came into this game with a string of like 10 good starts, so hopefully I can bounce right back.''

Both managers were startled by Greinke's outing. Usually a control pitcher, he walked three batters and fell behind several others.

``I tell you what, I was shocked to see him in that position. I thought he looked good, his stuff was good, he just got behind,'' Royals manager Buddy Bell said. ``They fouled some good pitches off and I think that affected him. They put some pretty good at-bats on him and he couldn't get through that first inning. ``

Detroit's Jim Leyland was equally surprised.

``If you had told me before the game that we'd score 12 runs with Zack Greinke out there, I would have thought you were nuts,'' Leyland said. ``He's an outstanding young pitcher and the next time we see him, we'll expect him to pitch that well. We were just lucky enough to catch him on a bad night.''

Leyland isn't always a fan of extreme patience at the plate, but acknowledged that his hitters picked the right time to show it.

``When a guy is throwing strikes all night, I don't want us trying to wait him out,'' he said. ``But the kid was wild, and that's the time to make him work as hard as possible.''

Rodriguez, who hasn't walked yet this season, swung at everything Greinke got near the plate. He fouled off two two-strike pitches before finally driving a ball over the fence in right-center.

``I knew he had thrown a lot of pitches, so I wanted to be very aggressive,'' Rodriguez said. ``He threw me some good pitches, and I had to foul off a couple to stay alive, but he finally left one over the plate.''

Carlos Guillen added four RBIs for the Tigers in their first home game against the Royals since Kansas City's stunning three-game sweep to end last season, costing the Tigers the AL Central title.

Orioles 9, Devil Rays 7

Melvin Mora and Freddie Bynum hit two-run homers as visiting Baltimore overcame a 6-0 deficit.

Bynum's two-run shot pulled the Orioles to 7-3 in the sixth and his RBI grounder during a five-run seventh put Baltimore ahead 8-7. Aubrey Huff added a solo homer in the ninth.

Winner Jeremy Guthrie (1-0) gave up a three-run double to Ty Wigginton on his first pitch. Jae Kuk Ryu (1-1) allowed Jay Gibbons' tying, two-run double in the seventh.

Red Sox 7, Angels 2

Josh Beckett (3-0) allowed one run _ Orlando Cabrera's first-inning homer _ and six hits over six innings in the Patriots Day game at Fenway Park, which started 2 hours, 13 minutes late because of rain.

Boston scored five runs before Ervin Santana (1-2) recorded an out and outscored the Angels 25-3 in a three-game sweep.

Santana (1-2) gave up seven runs _ five earned _ and seven hits in four innings. He is 20-5 at home but 9-13 on the road.