Tigers Sweep Braves

By: AP
By: AP

ATLANTA (AP) -- Andrew Miller and the Detroit Tigers certainly enjoyed interleague play.

Miller combined with Chad Durbin for a six-hit shutout, and the Tigers beat the slumping Atlanta Braves 5-0 Sunday night for their seventh straight win -- all on the road against National League teams.

The AL Central-leading Tigers finished 14-4 in interleague games, tying the Angels for the best mark in the majors.

"Don't ask me how that happens," said Detroit manager Jim Leyland. "Last year we were 15-3 and this year 14-4 -- that's pretty good. ... It's not like we had some easy schedule to go through."

Leyland noted the Tigers' NL opponents included first-place Milwaukee, the New York Mets and defending World Series champion St. Louis. The Tigers caught the reeling Braves, however, at the perfect time.

The Braves (38-38) have lost five straight, including four by shutout, to fall to .500 for the first time this season. The Braves have been outscored 27-1 in the five losses, their longest losing streak of the season.

"I would say we're having a hard time getting it going," said Braves manager Bobby Cox.

"You'd like to say it's all the pitching we've been facing, which has been outstanding. But you would think with just percentages you'd score more than one run in five games."

Miller (3-1), who was pitching for North Carolina in the College World Series a year ago, called his quick rise to the major leagues "a wild ride." But Leyland stressed Miller is "a work in progress."

"I like what I see," Leyland said. "I'm not going to get carried away by tonight. He did a good job."

Added Leyland: "People talk about taking it to the next level. I want him to creep and crawl a little bit. ... There's no pressure on him at all."

Miller has faced only NL teams in his four starts. The 22-year-old left-hander was lifted after walking Andruw Jones to open the seventh inning, as Leyland continues to closely watch his pitch counts.

Miller gave up four hits, walked two and struck out two while throwing 88 pitches.

Chad Durbin, who lost his spot in the rotation despite having a 6-3 record, finished up to earn his first career save.

"Here's a kid that says 'Skip, what can I do for the team,'" Leyland said. "When you have that kind of attitude ... that's a good sign. He didn't do anything to pitch his way out of the rotation. He was hopefully a beneficiary of the situation. I don't want to say he was a victim."

The Tigers plan to keep Miller, the sixth pick of the 2006 draft, in their rotation when Nate Robertson comes off the disabled list on Tuesday.

The only noise from the Braves this weekend was a short-lived spat between two of the team's veterans. Pitcher John Smoltz and third baseman Chipper Jones each said Sunday that a misunderstanding between the two played out in the media was solved in a meeting with Cox.

Jones was 1-for-4 and made a diving catch of a line drive hit by Brandon Inge in the third inning.

Chuck James (6-7) allowed just two hits in the first five innings, but left the game after allowing Detroit's first five hitters to reach base in the sixth.

Omar Infante led off with a bunt single and moved to second when James hit Placido Polanco with a pitch. Gary Sheffield's single to center drove in Infante for a 1-0 lead, and Magglio Ordonez added another single to load the bases.

Following a visit from pitching coach Roger McDowell, James walked Carlos Guillen to force in a run. Ivan Rodriguez hit reliever Pete Moylan's first pitch to left for a two-run single.

Moylan struck out pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson with the bases loaded to end the inning.

James gave up five hits and four runs in five innings. He struck out four and walked two.

"It's just not going well for us right now," James said. "Things are not going our way. You have to just push through it."

The Braves are 4-11 in interleague play.

"It will be good to get back to National League teams," said Kelly Johnson. "We've seen some tough lineups."

The Tigers added an eighth-inning run off Wil Ledezma. Inge hit a one-out double down the left-field line, stole third base and scored on Durbin's fly ball to left.

Andruw Jones, who carried a .198 batting average into the game, hit a fourth-inning single to snap an 0-for-24 drought.


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