Sun, Oct 15, 2006 - Page 24 News List

Rogers pitches another superb game to top A's


Kenny Rogers pitched yet another career-defining game and the Detroit Tigers backed him with their bats, gloves and legs, beating the Oakland Athletics 3-0 on a frosty Friday to take a 3-0 lead in the American League championship series.

Manager Jim Leyland made another lineup hunch pay off as the wild-card Tigers -- yes, the same team that dropped 119 games only three years ago -- posted their sixth straight postseason victory and moved within one win of their first World Series since 1984.

Putting aside temperatures of 4oC to 5oC at Comerica Park that forced both teams to put heaters in their dugouts, Rogers shut out the Athletics, yielding only two singles over 7 1/3 innings.

He drew a thunderous ovation when he left and the Detroit bullpen did the rest.

Craig Monroe homered, Placido Polanco delivered two more hits off losing pitcher Rich Harden and Tigers closer Todd Jones finished for his second save of the series.

At this rate, nothing seems able to stop the Tigers. Want evidence? Leyland pulled Game 2 star Alexis Gomez, put Omar Infante into his first postseason game and the DH singled and walked.

Certainly the Tigers' luck didn't change on Friday the 13th. And, a day after the earliest measured snowfall in the city's history, the cold was no problem, though it helped that the game was switched from a nighttime to a daytime start.

The A's were scheduled to get one last chance yesterday in Game 4, with Dan Haren starting against former Oakland draft pick Jeremy Bonderman. Only once in baseball history has a team rallied from an 0-3 deficit in the postseason, with Boston doing it against the New York Yankees in 2004.

Frank Thomas remained hitless in the series, yet the Big Hurt wasn't the lone Oakland hitter to feel the Big Chill against 41-year-old Rogers.

Coming off his first victory in a previously awful playoff career, Rogers reprised his role as an October ace. He blanked the Yankees for 7 2/3 innings in the first round and the A's never did much against him, either.

Rogers was not as animated as he was in the win over the Yankees. He saved his emotion for the end, thanking the 41,669 fans with a wave of the cap, making sure to salute every corner of the park.

Cardinals 9, Mets 6

At New York, So Taguchi hit a tiebreaking homer off Billy Wagner to lead off a three-run ninth inning, lifting St. Louis over New York to tie the National League championship series at one game apiece.

NL Cy Young pitching award winner Chris Carpenter faltered, but the Cardinals tied the game after trailing 3-0 and 4-2, then came back again in the seventh after falling behind 6-4.

During the regular season, Taguchi wasn't much of a power threat: He homered just twice in 316 at-bats this year. But he is 2-for-2 with a pair of homers in postseason play, also connecting off San Diego's Scott Linebrink in Game 3 in the first round.

Wagner entered with the score tied 6-all in the ninth. Taguchi, 0-for-5 against Wagner in his career, worked a full count and -- on the ninth pitch of the at-bat -- drove the ball over the left-field wall.

Albert Pujols then singled and scored on a double by Spiezio, whose seventh-inning triple off Guillermo Mota had tied the score. Juan Encarnacion followed with a run-scoring single off Wagner, who had gotten the save in New York's opening 2-0 win on Thursday night but was booed when he walked back to the dugout after being removed with two outs.

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