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Tigers Drub Slumping Yanks


The Detroit Tigers were glad to take advantage of the New York Yankees' troubles.

Juan Encarnacion homered and drove in four runs as the Tigers trounced the reeling Yankees 13-6 Wednesday night.

The Yankees have lost three straight, five of six and nine of 12.

"We've never had a period of time where we've played this poorly for this long," Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez said.

New York is 15-26 since reaching a season-high 13 games over on May 9.

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Game Summary

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  • "We're struggling right now. There's no other way to put it," shortstop Derek Jeter said. "When it rains, it pours. It doesn't get much worse."

    Tony Clark, Luis Polonia and Deivi Cruz also hit home runs for the Tigers, who have won three straight and are 5-0 at home this season against the two-time defending World Series champions.

    "We've played certainly our five best games against them this year," Tigers manager Phil Garner said.

    The Tigers have won five of their last seven and are 27-25 since a 5-17 start.

    "You come to the ballpark now and feel like you've got a chance," Detroit's Dean Palmer said. "We've really played well the whole month and beaten some pretty good teams."

    Willie Blair (5-1) gave up four runs on seven hits, including Bernie Williams' solo homer, in six innings. Blair is 3-0 in five starts since replacing C.J. Nitkowski in the Detroit rotation.

    "With a big lead you kind of have to battle to keep concentrating and still pitch like it's a close game," Blair said. "But I'm not complaining. I'll take this every time out."

    Steve Sparks pitched the final three innings for his first major league save.

    Ben Ford (0-1), impressive in his first major league start last Friday at Chicago, lasted just two-plus innings and was roughed up for seven runs on six hits five for extra bases.

    "I had no command of my pitches," Ford said. "I didn't feel any pressure because the team's been struggling. I just didn't have it."

    Ford will probably have to stay in the rotation, though, as New York's patchwork staff took another hit Wednesday.

    Ramiro Mendoza, scheduled to start Thursday's series finale, went on the 15-day disabled list with weakness in the back of his right shoulder.

    "You have to laugh to keep from crying," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I've managed a number of clubs and played on a number of clubs, and I've seen this before."

    The Tigers had eight extra-base hits off three New York pitchers. Cruz, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored, was a double shy of hitting for the cycle.

    Detroit, which has scored at least 13 runs in three of five games, played without Juan Gonzalez. He was scratched from the lineup shortly before the game with a sore left foot.

    "When you've got a lot of guys swinging well in the lineup it takes pressure off everyone," Palmer said. "You don't feel like you have to be the guy."

    Ford was in trouble right away as Clark hit a two-run double in the first inning.

    Brad Ausmus started a three-run second with a triple and scored on Encarnacion's single. Cruz hit an RBI triple and Becker added a run-scoring groundout.

    The Yankees got one back in the third on Jeter's RBI infield single, but the Tigers sent 10 batters to the plate and scored six times in the home half.

    Clark led off with his 12th homer, Encarnacion hit a three-run homer off Allen Watson and Polonia added a two-run shot that put the Tigers up 11-1.

    Scott Brosius hit an RBI double and Chuck Knoblauch added a run-scoring single in the fifth. Cruz answered with a two-run homer in the bottom half.

    Williams led off the sixth with his 17th home run and doubled in two more runs in the eighth.

    Notes

  • Knoblauch committed his 15th error at second base when Jeter couldn't handle his low throw on a probable double-play grounder in the sixth. Jeter and Knoblauch were flawless on the next play as Ausmus grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
  • Clark homered in three straight games and has seven in his last 10. He has hit safely in 13 of 15 games.
  • Brosius was back in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday with a stiff hamstring. He was removed after batting in the fifth.

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