Kenny Rogers overcame a dispute over his smudged hand to shut down the St Louis Cardinals and lead the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 victory which tied the World Series at one game apiece on a chilly Sunday.
Virtually untouchable this season, Rogers blanked the Cardinals on two hits over eight shutout innings.
But what was on the lefty's pitching hand that caused a first-inning flap? It appeared to be something dirty or dark, and the umpires brought Cardinals manager Tony La Russa out to the field at the end of the first for a brief discussion.
Rogers said it was a clump of dirt and resin he picked up from rubbing up baseballs. Whatever was on the Tiger pitcher's paw, it was gone when he came out for the second.
"I didn't know it was there until after the inning," he said.
In the middle of the second, Detroit manager Jim Leyland talked to three umpires near the third-base line.
"He was pretty clean the rest of the way," Leyland said.
La Russa wouldn't discuss it: "It's not important to talk about," he said tersely.
Leyland said St Louis hitters brought the matter up.
"I know Tony said, `Hey, I don't want to make any issue here, but a couple of my players are saying that the ball is acting a little funny,'" Leyland said. "And obviously they were a little suspicious."
Rogers extended his scoreless streak to 23 postseason innings this year and 24 1-3 postseason innings overall, a streak that began in 2003 with Minnesota. It is the longest streak since Curt Schilling tossed 25 scoreless innings in 1993 and 2001.
Rogers struck out five and walked three, improving to 3-0 in this postseason. He was 0-3 with an 8.85 ERA in the postseason before this year.
"This is where it's at and what it's all about, being able to come in here and do something like this," he said. "I've done as bad as you can do on the field. It's great to have some success."
Todd Jones came on in the ninth and allowed Scott Rolen's two-out single, then misplayed Juan Encarnacion's comebacker for an error that put runners on the corners. Jim Edmonds blooped a double down the left-field line that scored Rolen, then Jones hit Preston Wilson with a pitch, loading the bases.
After a visit from pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, Jones retired Yadier Molina on a forceout, preserving the shaky save.
Craig Monroe got the Tigers started by homering for the second straight night, a solo shot off Jeff Weaver in a two-run first, and Carlos Guillen and Sean Casey also drove in runs for Detroit. Guillen had three hits, falling a home run short of the cycle.
Rogers allowed an infield single by Rolen in the first that third baseman Brandon Inge could only knock down. He didn't give up another hit until Molina singled to right leading off the eighth.
In a battle of starters who failed with the New York Yankees, Weaver struggled and allowed at least two runners in every inning. He left after five, having allowed three runs and nine hits.
A night after St Louis got the National League's first World Series win since 2003, Detroit made sure one record won't fall this year: There have never been three straight Series sweeps.
Following a travel day, the new Busch Stadium in St Louis hosts its first World Series game on Tuesday, with Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter pitching against Nate Robertson.