Indians tame Tigers

By Larry Lage Associated Press Published:

DETROIT _ Roberto Alomar has been where Juan Gonzalez is.

Gonzalez, who spent last season with the Tigers, returned to Detroit on Thursday as a member of the Cleveland Indians.

Heckled before the game and booed throughout it, Gonzalez went 1-for-3 with two RBI in his return to Comerica Park as the Cleveland Indians beat the Tigers 5-3.

Two years ago, Alomar returned to Baltimore, where he played from 1996-98.

"I've been there before," said Alomar, who gave Cleveland a 4-0 lead in the fourth on a three-run double. "When you have good friends around you, guys who are going to be positive to you, all the boos become positive.

"All I told him to do is concentrate and do your job. I know it's tough and it's not easy to do, but sometimes boos make you concentrate better and play better."

It would be tough for Gonzalez to have played better than he has this season. He's tied for the AL lead in homers with five and in RBI with 14.

The problems that limited him to 115 games last year have not hindered him during the first two weeks of the season.

"I'm happy that I'm healthy and that I feel more comfortable," Gonzalez said as his lower back was wrapped with heat packs before the game. "I feel like I did before. Last year, I had problems with my back, my hamstring and my foot."

Gonzalez said it was hard, but he tried to ignore the boos and concentrate on his game.

"He did what a professional is supposed to do," Cleveland manager Charlie Manuel said. "He spoke back with his bat."

Detroit's Tony Clark is not surprised at how Gonzalez has bounced back. He had just 22 homers and 67 RBI and turned down a $143-million, eight-year extension to stay with the Tigers.

"He's healthy and happy," said Clark, who extended his hitting streak to eight games. "I said it before he came here, I said it when he was here and I'll say it again. He's still one of the best RBI men in the business."

Cleveland snapped its three-game losing streak and extended Detroit's skid to four.

Bartolo Colon struck out eight for Cleveland, which took a 4-0 lead in the fourth and held on for the victory after the Tigers scored one in the fifth and two in the seventh, leaving two on base.

Colon (1-1) allowed three runs and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. Bob Wickman got three outs for his third save in three chances, getting Shane Halter to ground into a game-ending double play with two on.

Chris Holt (1-1) gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings. Heath Murray kept the Tigers in the game with 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief.

Notes: Cleveland's Russell Branyan has struck out a league-high 17 times. ... The first seven runs were scored with two outs. ... Colon gave up nine runs and 15 hits in 15 innings during his first two appearances. ... Holt, who was part of a six-player deal with Houston, won his first start against Chicago last week after giving up three runs in eight innings.

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