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Thompson's Three-Hitter Lifts Tigers

Justin Thompson eased up on his fastball, relying on his control to dominate the Milwaukee Brewers.

Thompson pitched a career-best three-hitter to lead the Detroit Tigers to a 4-1 victory over the struggling Brewers.

"It didn't look like his velocity was as high as it's been," Detroit manager Buddy Bell said after Thompson (4-6) and back-to-back home runs by Bobby Higginson and Tony Clark helped the Tigers take two of three from Milwaukee.

"But, his location,his command was a lot better. He was down in the zone quite a bit more."

Thompson, who walked three and struck out six, kept Milwaukee off stride and off the bases early in his second complete game of the season and sixth overall.

He struck out five in the first four innings while pitching no-hit ball until there were two outs in the fifth.

Thompson retired Mark Loretta on a ground out, but then Marc Newfield reached on shortstop Deivi Cruz's throwing error. Mike Matheny walked and both advanced on Jose Valentin's sacrifice. Pinch hitter Darrin Jackson beat out a high chopper that drove in Newfield for an unearned run.

Fernando Vina followed with a walk, but Thompson got out of inning when Jeff Cirillo ground out to end the threat.

"I was able to spot my fastball," Thompson said after giving up only two more hits after the fifth, singles to Mike Matheny in the seventh and Jeff Cirillo in the eighth.

The 25-year-old left-hander quickly regained control after surrendering the unearned run and retired 12 of the last 14 batters he faced.

"I thought he threw the ball pretty good," Brewers manager Phil Garner said after his club lost for the fifth time in six games to fall below .500 (29-30). "I don't want to discount the fact how well he threw. It appeared we had some trouble picking up his pitches."

Higginson and Clark each hit their 11th home runs in the eighth off Al Reyes to give Thompson some breathing room.

It was Clark's sixth home run in the last eight games.

Thompson credited his success to changing his approach to throwing in the bullpen between starts.

"I was getting lazy in the bullpen," he said. "I wasn't getting anything out of it. I've got to make quality pitches in the bullpen and that'll carry over to the game."

Luis Gonzalez gave Detroit a 1-0 lead in the fourth with a two-out RBI single off Steve Woodard (3-4), who allowed two runs and four hits in five innings.

Woodard was one pitch away from getting out of the fifth when a wild pitch on a strikeout cost him another run.

"There were times I threw the ball well and at times, I didn't," Woodard said. "But as a whole, pitching, hitting, everything, we're struggling right now."

With two outs, Brian Hunter sung and missed on strike three. The ball got away from catcher Matheny, who hesitated before chasing the ball down as it rolled toward the Tigers' dugout. After Joe Randa walked, Hunter scored on Higginson's single.

Notes: The Brewers outrighted outfielder Eric Owens to Triple A Louisville after the game and activated outfielder John Jaha (injured left foot) off the disabled list. ... With the Brewers' new Miller Park scheduled to open for the 2000 season, it probably was the Tigers last game at County Stadium where they have an all-time record of 103-98. .... ... Milwaukee's opponents have not been retired in order in the first inning of the last 20 games.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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