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Bonderman, Polanco lead Tigers to fourth straight win

Sep 27, 2006 - 2:13 AM DETROIT (Ticker) -- The Detroit Tigers are rounding into form at the right time.

Jeremy Bonderman tossed six stellar innings and Placido Polanco drove in three runs as the Tigers won their fourth straight game, a 4-3 triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays, who had their three-game winning streak snapped.

Headed to the postseason for the first time in 19 years, Detroit (95-62) stayed one game ahead of Minnesota atop the American League Central Division and remained tied with the New York Yankees for the best record in the AL and home-field advantage.

"There's not going to be any easy games. That's OK. Minnesota's trying to win the division, we're trying to win the division," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's still nice to have that comfort knowing that you're in for sure."

The Tigers have won eight of 11 overall and reduced their magic number to four.

"It's one more game we don't need to win to win this division," Bonderman said. "Minnesota's going to fight us all the way. We've got to go out and play each game like it's the last and see what happens from there."

Bonderman (14-8) yielded just one unearned run and three hits in winning his third consecutive start. The hard-throwing righthander surrendered a sacrifice fly to Gregg Zaun in the fourth but not much else. He walked three and struck out four.

Polanco delivered a two-out, two-run single in the second off Toronto rookie Dustin McGowan (1-2), who was making his first start since July 29.

"I feel really good to be back and I want to help the team win," said Polanco, who played in his second contest since coming off the disabled list with a shoulder injury. "We're trying to win the division and get home-field advantage."

In the sixth, Brandon Inge roped an RBI single and Polanco put down a squeeze to extend the lead to 4-1.

"We kind of look for that sometimes in an RBI situation," Polanco said. "It tells you that we're going to win games not just hitting doubles or home runs, by bunting, too, and squeezing."

The Blue Jays rallied in the seventh after Bonderman departed. Frank Catalanotto hit an RBI single and Alex Rios scored on rookie Joel Zumaya's wild pitch to make it 4-3.

"We have guys that go out every night and lay it on the line and I'm proud of them," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "We could have folded numerous times this year and they didn't do it."

Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless eighth and closer Todd Jones logged the ninth for his 37th save.

"I gave up my basic base hit, but I got out of it so it was a good win for us," Jones said. "We're still trying to win as many games as we can. We're trying to win the division and host the first-round of the playoffs."

Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez left in the third inning with lower-back spasms. He went 0-for-1 before being replaced by Alexis Gomez.

"He (Ordonez) has back spasms," Leyland said. "I don't know if he'll be all right (Wednesday) or not."

McGowan lasted just two innings, allowing two unearned runs, two hits and a walk.

"I knew I wasn't going to get but about two or three innings, about 40-45 pitches, so I did the best I could with the amount of pitches I could," McGowan said.

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