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Tigers Overpower Dodgers To Prevent Sweep

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Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs. The game is quickly avalanching towards the four-hour mark with the Detroit Tigers leading the Dodgers 7-5. Dioner Navarro up to bat against Tigers’ closer Jose Valverde. Valverde, who hadn’t pitched since June 16, was laboring giving up singles to Andre Ethier and James Loney and a walk to Matt Kemp.

Navarro had already come to the plate once with the bases loaded and two outs: he struck out swinging to end the fifth inning against reliever Al Alburquerque.

This time, in this ninth inning with what remained of the 30,332 ticket-buyers, Navarro took a mighty hack at a 1-2 fastball. Up it went to centerfield obviously not a home run but looking to make contact with the warning track.

“I hit it good,” Navarro said. “I thought it was going to go over his head.”

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The head in question was Austin Jackson who came in for defensive purposes just for the ninth inning. But back he went towards the wall and he stuck his glove out. In the ball went into the glove incredulously.

“I thought it was over his head as soon as he hit it,” Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly said.

But the ball went into Jackson's glove and the Dodgers three-game winning streak ended in thrilling fashion which is much better than how things started out in my first game back at the Ravine.

With 14 Dodgers going on the disabled list 19 times, it seemed appropriate that I would be out of commission for a week with a bad back. Having gone 3-4 while I was convalescing like a turtle on its back, the Dodgers really looked how I felt.

As much as I expected a baseball game, I looked at the posted lineup and saw that Ted Lilly was starting the game for the Dodgers: a tee-ball game really.

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Lilly obliged the Tigers allowing homers in the each of the first three innings: Casper Wells with a leadoff solo shot in the first; Magglio Ordonez with a two-run homer in the second; Miguel Cabrera with a two-out, two-run homer in the third.

“When you go back over the game, there were quite a few occasions where I thought I needed to make the better pitch,” Lilly admitted. “Sometimes even if your command is not as good as it should, there are a few times you can limit the damage as much as possible and limit them to three or four runs.”

To the Dodgers credit they never let the game get too far away from them. Armed with singles, the Dodgers chipped their way back into the game. In the bottom of the first inning, the Dodgers responded by scoring twice on Matt Kemp’s RBI triple, the lone extra-base hit, and James Loney’s RBI bloop single to left field.

As the Tigers held the 5-2 lead in the fourth inning, Marcus Thames singled home Kemp.

Then in the fifth inning the Dodgers made their greatest stand stringing together five singles to score twice and get to within 6-5, a Juan Uribe double play be damned.

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Pinch hitter Don Kelly led off the eighth inning with a solo homer off of Matt Guerrier to give the Tigers the two-run cushion.