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Rookie Leads Tigers to 4-1 Win Over A’s

April 24, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) _ Rookie Jeremy Bonderman retired 17 straight batters for his first major league win, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Oakland Athletics 4-1 Wednesday night for their second victory in 19 games this season.

Craig Monroe hit a two-run homer off Barry Zito for the Tigers, whose only other win was 4-3 against the Chicago White Sox on April 12. The team is still off to the worst 19-game start in club history.

Bonderman (1-3), traded to the Tigers by Oakland last year, was spectacular as Detroit stopped its eight-game losing streak in highly unlikely circumstances: on the road against Zito, who lost for just the second time in his last 32 starts at the Coliseum.

Bonderman allowed three hits in eight innings, striking out five in his fourth major league start. After consecutive singles by Jermaine Dye and Terrence Long in the second, Bonderman retired every batter he faced until Long’s one-out triple in the eighth. Ramon Hernandez drove home Long with a groundout.

Bonderman thoroughly outpitched Zito (3-2), the AL Cy Young Award winner. Zito’s previous home loss also was against Detroit, when Mark Redman outpitched him last Aug. 2.

Bonderman, once rated the A’s top pitching prospect, was part of the three-team trade that sent Jeff Weaver to the Yankees and brought Ted Lilly to Oakland. He had a 10.22 ERA while losing his first three starts, but he was nearly unhittable in Oakland.

Matt Anderson, the least-used closer in baseball, pitched the ninth for Detroit’s first save of the season. He wasn’t sharp, but Bobby Higginson reached over the right field fence to steal a two-run homer from Scott Hatteberg.

Monroe hit his fourth career homer in the fourth inning, a two-run drive to deep center in the cavernous Coliseum. He had gone 1-for-12 this season for the Tigers, who claimed him off waivers from Texas in February.

Zito wasn’t sharp, allowing five hits in seven innings and walking the bases loaded in the second.

Dean Palmer added a two-run double against reliever Jim Mecir in the eighth for the Tigers, who won a road game for the first time in 11 tries this season.

The top of the third inning had no scoring, but plenty of entertainment value. First, Terrence Long slid to catch Higginson’s fly to left, juggling it three times with both hands before finally corralling it.

Zito then made a diving catch on Eugene Kingsale’s bunt, and Craig Paquette was later called out at first base even though Scott Hatteberg’s foot might have come off the bag, sparking an argument from Detroit manager Alan Trammell.

Notes: Before the game, Oakland activated Mecir, who had offseason knee surgery. LHP Micah Bowie, who was struggling, was designated for assignment. ... Monroe started in left field because Trammell benched struggling infielders Eric Munson and Carlos Pena. Dmitri Young, the regular left fielder, took over for Munson at third base.

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