Rookie Jeremy Sowers won his third straight start and fifth consecutive decision with six solid innings, leading the Cleveland Indians to a 4-2 win over the suddenly staggering Tigers last night in Cleveland.
After the game, Detroit manager Jim Leyland told his players they'd better fix things quickly.
His message? ``If we want to play in October, we've all got to step it up," he said.
Sowers (6-3) gave up two runs in the second inning, but blanked the AL Central's top team for the four as the Indians snapped a four-game losing streak to Detroit. Cleveland is just 5-12 against the Tigers this season.
Detroit, which entered the weekend leading second-place Chicago by 5 1/2 games, has lost three straight, six of eight, and is just 5-12 since Aug. 8 -- when the Tigers led their division by 10.
The Tigers, who were pounded 10-0 by the White Sox Thursday, had five hits through the first two innings, but managed only one hit and one baserunner over the final seven, an infield single by Omar Infante in the fourth.
With September just days away, Leyland wants his players to understand that they haven't accomplished anything yet.
``You're not going to hope your way in or wish your way in [to the playoffs]," Leyland said. ``You have to play your way in. If you want to play in the postseason, you've got to close the deal."
Making his first career start against Detroit, Sowers, 23, gave up two runs and six hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out four. The left-hander is 5-0 with a 1.69 ERA in his past seven starts.
The Indians handed Detroit starter Jeremy Bonderman (11-6) just his second road loss this season. He gave up four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings and remained winless in his past six starts.
Cardinals 2, Cubs 0 -- Jeff Suppan pitched shutout ball into the eighth inning, overcoming three balls that rookie left fielder Chris Duncan misplayed into doubles, as host St. Louis moved one game ahead of Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Cardinals won despite going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Giants 4, Reds 1 -- Matt Morris hit a key two-run double in the eighth inning and pitched a three-hitter to lift host San Francisco.
Phillies 4, Mets 3 -- Ryan Howard hit his NL-leading 45th home run and made a key diving stop as visiting Philadelphia ended the Mets' seven-game winning streak. The wild-card hopeful Phillies won minus manager Charlie Manuel, who was ejected in the sixth inning.
Astros 5, Pirates 1 -- Roger Clemens (6-4) limited host Pittsburgh to one run over six innings to win his fourth in a row, extending his strong run of late-season pitching for fast-fading Houston. Clemens's 347th career victory was his first in two starts at Pittsburgh and only the fourth victory in 14 games by the defending NL champion Astros. Houston's Willy Taveras extended his hitting streak to 28 games with a single leading off the game.
Athletics 9, Rangers 3 -- Barry Zito took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and earned his 100th career victory, leading visiting Oakland. Mark DeRosa led off the eighth with a clean single to center field for the Rangers' first hit. Zito (14-8) was trying to pitch the majors' first no-hitter since Randy Johnson threw a perfect game for Arizona at Atlanta May 18, 2004.
Rockies 13, Padres 5 -- Brad Hawpe hit his first home run at Coors Field since May 16 and Jeff Francis overcame a rough start as Colorado snapped a six-game losing streak. The Rockies' first six hitters in the order were a combined 16-for-23 with 12 runs scored and 11 RBIs.
Blue Jays 6, Royals 3 -- Rookie Shaun Marcum, who gave up nine runs in a 15-0 loss to Baltimore in his most recent start, rebounded with six strong innings to lead host Toronto.
Orioles 4, Devil Rays 0 -- Daniel Cabrera (7-8) pitched seven innings of five-hit ball, and host Baltimore dealt Tampa Bay its eighth straight road loss.
Marlins 6, Brewers 5 -- Mike Jacobs drove in three runs, reliever Brian Moehler pitched four shutout innings, and host Florida rallied for its fifth consecutive win.
Nationals 7, Braves 6 -- Austin Kearns hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning to lead Washington past Atlanta, which dropped to 26-34 at Turner Field.