With Detroit one out from getting swept in a doubleheader by the New York Yankees, Craig Monroe gave the Tigers another of the comeback wins that have defined their season.
Monroe’s three-run homer off Scott Proctor with two out in the ninth lifted the Tigers to a 5-3 victory Wednesday night, preventing Detroit’s dwindling lead in the AL Central from getting sliced to 3 1/2 games.
“Let’s be honest, that was a big win,” Monroe said.
Chien-Ming Wang tied Toronto’s Roy Halladay and the Chicago White Sox’s Jon Garland for the major league lead with his 16th win in the day game, contributing to a four-hitter in a 2-0 victory. And New York had rallied from a two-run deficit in the nightcap.
But with Mariano Rivera unavailable after finishing the day game and Yankees Manager Joe Torre unwilling to test Kyle Farnsworth’s back, New York brought in Proctor for the ninth.
Seeking his first major league save, Proctor (5-4) walked Brandon Inge with one out. After fouling off a pair of 3-2 pitches with two out, Curtis Granderson took ball four. Monroe turned on the next pitch, a weak slider, and homered. It was his 10th homer from the seventh inning on with a lead or deficit of two runs or less.
“We’ve been doing it all year,” Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said. “We have a good team. We’re not a fluke.”
Still, New York boosted its AL East lead to eight games over second-place Boston, its largest division margin since August 2004.
Detroit, which has lost eight of 12, has a 4 1/2 -game lead over second-place Chicago, down from a 10-game division lead on Aug. 8.