Tigers 7, Orioles 5(11)

For three hours Tuesday, Johnny Damon’s 2,500th career hit

seemed sure to be the highlight of his night.

It didn’t end up that way.

Damon’s next hit was a game-ending homer in the 11th inning as

the Detroit Tigers rallied to beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-5.

“The ball from my 2,500th hit is going in the trophy case, but

No. 2,501 is the one I’m going to remember for a long time,” Damon

said. “Hitting a homer in a situation like that never gets

old.”

Austin Jackson led off the inning with a single off David

Hernandez (3-7). Damon followed by hitting an 0-2 pitch so hard

that Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis immediately walked off the

field, not even turning around as the ball sailed over his

head.

“I thought about having him bunt, because we had Magglio

(Ordonez) and Miguel (Cabrera) coming up, but I decided that the

guy has 2,500 hits, so I might as well let him have a chance,”

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “It might have looked smart, but

it wasn’t any more complicated than that.”

Damon had singled in the third inning for his milestone, and

received a lengthy standing ovation from the crowd of 22,532.

“This is my first year here, and I’ve been OK, but I’ve wanted

to do a lot more than I have,” Damon said. “That’s why it meant

the world to me to get that kind of reaction. I’ve always thought

Detroit had great fans, but tonight cemented that in my

heart.”

Hernandez was pitching his second inning after Baltimore closer

Alfredo Simon had blown what would have been the first multi-inning

save of his career. The Orioles bullpen was depleted after Kevin

Millwood had lasted just one inning in Monday night’s game.

“We’re not getting wins in bunches right now, so we decided to

go for it when we had the chance,” Orioles manager Juan Samuel

said. “We thought Alfredo could get five outs, and we thought

David had looked strong in his first inning, but that team has a

lot of dangerous hitters.”

The Tigers trailed 4-1 going into the eighth, but Cabrera led

off with a triple and scored on Brennan Boesch’s single. Brandon

Inge’s one-out triple scored Boesch to make it 4-3 before Simon

struck out Alex Avila.

Ramon Santiago walked, but Jackson, pinch-hitting, bounced out

to end the inning. Julio Lugo made it 5-3 with an RBI single in the

ninth.

Damon walked to lead off the ninth before Cabrera tied the game

with the long homer off Simon.

“That guy throws too hard to try to hit a homer off him,” said

Cabrera, who fell a double short of the cycle. “If you do that,

you are just going to pop it up. I was trying to make contact, and

I hit it hard.”

Cabrera and Damon’s late-inning homers both landed deep in the

stands.

“There’s no defense against balls hit like that,” Leyland

said. “When you’ve got guys who can hit them out there, there’s

nothing the other guys can do about it.”

Ryan Perry (2-4) got the win with a scoreless inning of

relief.

The Orioles stranded 10 runners in the first six innings, but

finally broke through against Armando Galarraga on Markakis’

two-run homer in the seventh. Felix Pie, activated from the

disabled list before the game, added an RBI single later in the

inning.

Baltimore got a break in the bottom of the inning. After

Santiago walked, Don Kelly hit a hard grounder off first baseman Ty

Wigginton’s glove, but the ball bounced right to Lugo, who threw

back to Wigginton for the rare 3-4-3 putout.

Markakis added an RBI single in the eighth before Detroit’s

rally in the bottom of the inning.

“We had a lot of opportunities to score more runs, but even

then, we still had the lead going into the ninth inning,” Samuel

said. “At some point, we’ve got to start closing out these games

and get some wins.”

Detroit had taken a 1-0 lead on Avila’s RBI single in the

second, and kept the lead in the third when Don Kelly’s diving

catch in center field robbed Wigginton of an RBI single.

NOTES: After the game, Galarraga was optioned to Triple-A Toledo

in a planned move. Because of the All-Star break, the Tigers will

not need a fifth starter until July 20, so Galarraga will make a

start in Toledo on July 15 to avoid rust. … To replace Galarraga,

the Tigers purchased the contract of reliever Robbie Weinhardt. …

Pie replaced Millwood, who was placed on the DL with a strained

forearm. … Wieters hit his second career triple in the seventh

inning – both coming against the Tigers. … Damon joins former

teammates Manny Ramirez, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez as the only

active players with 2,500 hits, 1,500 runs and 1,000 RBIs. …

Cabrera extended his hitting streak to 15 games. … Michigan

native Mike Modano, currently a free agent, spent the game in the

suite of Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.