Tigers blow six-run lead, lose AL Central title in extras

DETROIT (AP) -- The Detroit Tigers head to Yankee Stadium for the
playoffs, knowing all too well how close they were to winning the
AL Central title and opening at home.

Needing one more victory to clinch the division, the sagging
Tigers lost their final five games of the season. They wound up
with the wild card after Sunday's disappointment -- wasting a
six-run lead and then watching All-Star starter Kenny Rogers lose
in relief 10-8 to the last-place Kansas City Royals in 12 innings.

"We got beat," Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said.
"Kansas City played great. They outhit us, they outscored us and
we ended up getting swept by them."

Detroit will open the playoffs on the road Tuesday night against
the Yankees.

"Once we get to New York, we'll be ready to go," first baseman
Sean Casey said. "It's a new season come Tuesday night."

Nate Robertson will start for Detroit in Game 1 and rookie
Justin Verlander (17-9) is scheduled to pitch Game 2.

"It's a lot easier to beat them three out of five than four out
of seven," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We needed our
pitchers to give us more than we got in the last five days. If we
keep pitching like this, nothing else is going to matter."

Rogers (17-8) will start Game 3 at Comerica Park and
Jeremy Bonderman (14-8) will pitch Game 4, if necessary. Rogers and
Bonderman both worked Sunday.

Minnesota wound up as the Central champion, and will start the
playoffs at home against Oakland.

"Congratulations to the Minnesota Twins. I take my hat off to
them, they did a great job this year," Leyland said.

If the Tigers had won, they would've finished with an identical
96-66 record as the Twins -- and Detroit would've won the division
crown because of its 11-8 mark against Minnesota.

The Royals, tied with Tampa Bay for the worst record in the
majors, completed their first three-game sweep in Detroit since

"It was neat to see our kids play and fight hard," interim
Royals manager Bill Doran said. "Maybe they can learn something
and grow from what they did this weekend."

Detroit loaded the bases with one out in the 11th, but Brandon Inge and Granderson both struck out.

"We had a chance, we were in the driver's seat the whole time.
All we can do is blame ourselves," Granderson said.

In the 12th, Esteban German's RBI single and Emil Brown's
bases-loaded walk off Rogers won it for the Royals. Rogers made his
first relief appearance since 2003 as the Tigers played to win,
having seen the Twins' victory over Chicago posted on the

Jimmy Gobble (4-6) was the winning pitcher.

"It nice to be on the winning side, but you can't take anything
away from the Tigers, they had a great season," Gobble said.

The Tigers rushed to a 6-0 lead behind Bonderman, scoring five
times in the third. Craig Monroe, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen all doubled before Inge hit his 27th home run.

Down 7-4, the Royals rallied for four runs in the eighth. A
throwing error by Inge from third base set up David DeJesus'
infield single off Todd Jones, putting Kansas City ahead 8-7.

Matt Stairs, who isn't eligible for the postseason roster, tied
it with a pinch-hit homer in the Tigers eighth off Scott Dohmann.

The Tigers tried to win it in the 11th. Magglio Ordonez hit a
one-out single, Carlos Guillen also singled and the runners moved
up on right fielder Mitch Maier's throwing error.

Reliever Joe Nelson intentionally walked Ivan Rodriguez to load
the bases, then struck out Inge. Gobble then came in and fanned

Angel Berroa started the Royals 12th with a single. One out
later, Angel Sanchez singled and Joey Gathright walked to load the

German hit a go-ahead single and after DeJesus grounded into a
forceout at the plate, Rogers walked Brown to force home the 10th

The Royals began their comeback from a 6-0 deficit when Brown's
two-run double keyed a three-run fourth.

In the fifth, a fan interfered with German's RBI double down the
left-field line, finishing Bonderman, who exited to a standing
ovation. Joel Zumaya pitched two scoreless innings in relief.

Rodriguez hit an RBI triple in the fifth that made it 7-4.

Game notes
Leyland said OF Marcus Thames was recovering well from a
throat infection. But the manager is concerned about playing Thames
in Tuesday night's playoff opener after missing nearly a week of
playing time. ... Guillen scored his 100th run, the first Tigers
player to reach the mark since Bobby Higginson in 2000. ... The
game was played before a sellout crowd of 40,155.