- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2008

BALTIMORE | Gary Sheffield and Brandon Inge hit two-run homers, Marcus Thames added a solo shot and the Detroit Tigers resumed their playoff drive by defeating the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 on Thursday night.

Kenny Rogers (7-6) allowed four runs and 11 hits in six gritty innings for the Tigers, who moved within 6 1/2 games of first-place Chicago in the AL Central. Detroit has won 24 of 35 since June 6.

Todd Jones, the fifth Detroit pitcher, worked the ninth for his 18th save. After Aubrey Huff hit a one-out sacrifice fly with the bases loaded, Jones retired Kevin Millar on a grounder to third.

Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles, who have dropped eight of nine to fall four games under .500 (45-49) for the first time this season.

Baltimore starter Garrett Olson (6-5) gave up five runs, seven hits and four walks in six innings. The rookie has allowed 18 runs over 15 innings in his last three starts.

Inge gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead in the sixth with his seventh homer that followed a two-out single by Edgar Renteria. It was his first home run on the road since May 17, 2007, at Boston.

Baltimore got runners at the corners with no outs in the bottom half, but Rogers got out of the jam. Ramon Hernandez got caught in a rundown after breaking to the plate on a grounder by Brandon Fahey, then Brian Roberts hit into a 5-3 double play.

That ended Rogers’ night, but the 43-year-old stuck around long enough to earn his 217th victory, tied with former Detroit star Mickey Lolich for 19th place on the career list among left-handers.

Thames connected off Dennis Sarfate in the seventh to make it 6-4. In the eighth, Sheffield was robbed of another home run when Jay Payton reached over the wall to snare his drive to left.

Sheffield put the Tigers up 2-0 in the second with his 486th career homer following a walk to Miguel Cabrera. It was his sixth home run of the season and first since June 26.

Baltimore used four straight hits to pull even in the bottom half, including a run-scoring double by Mora and an RBI single by Hernandez.

Each team scored a run in the third. Detroit used doubles by Curtis Granderson and Thames to take the lead before Roberts doubled and scored on a grounder by Nick Markakis.

Mora’s 12th homer put Baltimore ahead for the first time 4-3 in the fourth. Rogers avoided further damage by striking out Adam Jones with the bases loaded and two outs.

— Detroit right fielder Magglio Ordonez, activated from the DL before the game after being sidelined since June 29 with a pulled oblique muscle, went 1-for-5. …

Jones had two hits and has reached base safely in 17 straight games. …

Sheffield’s homer gave him 1,596 RBI, lifting him past Mike Schmidt into 31st place on the career list.

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