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TEX@DET: Cabrera's single gives Tigers walk-off win

DETROIT -- The sounds of Pink Floyd blared from the Tigers' clubhouse, to the point that it was difficult to hear players speak. A winning clubhouse gets music. The sounds of any panic, however, were relatively quiet.

Still, as wins go, Tuesday was a big one.

"I would definitely not say panic," Brandon Inge said after the 5-4 walk-off win over the Rangers. "This one felt more like, 'All right, that's enough, guys. We have this one within grasp.' ...

"It wasn't panic. It was more determination."

It was partly the opponent, the temporary stop to the Rangers' start, which still ranks as the best in the Majors at 9-2. It was partly the way the game unfolded, a back-and-forth struggle that included defensive heroics, a few clutch hits in the absence of Magglio Ordonez, a very clutch walk and a little small-ball offense.

But the way the Tigers' season had unfolded, with a 3-7 record entering the day, it was hard to ignore.

"You have to win ballgames and find a way to win," Ramon Santiago said. "We lost three straight games. We needed this one."

The Tigers also needed a slew of plays to do it, but they delivered.

Two days after committing four errors in defeat to the Royals, they committed a handful of defensive gems, from Victor Martinez's mad dash to an uncovered home plate ahead of Josh Hamilton, to Ryan Raburn's leaping grab at the fence to deny Michael Young a three-run homer, to Santiago's strong-armed relay throw to deny Adrian Beltre a leadoff triple.

"That was just a huge play in the game that goes unnoticed," manager Jim Leyland said.

Leyland took responsibility for the Tigers' slow start Tuesday morning, but he also said they wouldn't stay slow. He believes in his offense, which has struggled at times to date. If the Tigers can pitch well enough, Leyland said, they'll be better.

"It's my responsibility to get performance out of the team," Leyland said before the game. "Right now, we've got some guys that haven't pitched very well and we've got some guys that aren't swinging very well. That's not going to stay like that."

Tuesday afternoon didn't bring an offensive breakout, no shellacking by any stretch on Rangers left-hander C.J. Wilson. He gave up four extra-base hits, none of them home runs, and one was a bloop double from Casper Wells that dropped behind Young in short right field.

Yet out of the nine Tigers to reach base on hits, five of them scored. Austin Jackson's first triple of the year set up an easy RBI groundout for Santiago. Raburn's single and Cabrera's double set up a fourth-inning sacrifice fly for Martinez. Santiago flew through a stop sign from third-base coach Gene Lamont to score on Raburn's fifth-inning double to the left-field wall. Brennan Boesch drove in a go-ahead run with a good single off a left-handed pitcher.

The last was Inge, whose ninth-inning single through the left side began a wild ride for the Tigers against sidearming righty Darren O'Day.

"You can't try to do too much against that guy," Inge said, "because you're not going to see the ball well."

After Alex Avila sacrificed Inge to second, the Tigers didn't have to put another ball in play until Cabrera came up. Jackson, who has said all along he's seeing the ball well, drew a five-pitch walk. After O'Day fanned Santiago for the second out, Raburn's walk brought Cabrera to the plate with the bases loaded.

Unlike Monday, the Rangers had to pitch to him. Once O'Day fell behind on a 2-1 count, he had to challenge him. Cabrera hit a simple single to left, and his teammates mobbed him at first base.

"The pitch to Cabrera was one of the best fastballs I threw all day," O'Day said. "He just hit it hard and got it through."

It wasn't a sense of relief, Inge said.

"I think that's the difference in the way some games can slip away from you," Inge said, "because you can turn what should be determination into a little bit of panic, and that's natural. Once you start slipping, it's easy to get into that panic mode. We didn't today. We kept our minds on what we were doing.

"Before, everyone might have gone, 'Man, are you kidding me? We're doing everything we can. Nothing's going our way.' And that's when you get into self-pity mode. But today was, 'So what? Let's keep going at them.' That's a much better mindset. That starts from the coaching staff down -- no panic, let's keep at them. That's what we need to have all year: No panic whatsoever."

That has started with Leyland.

"Like I said, we've got a good team," Leyland said afterward. "We've got some guys not hitting, a couple guys hitting. And like I said, without putting too much emphasis on it, we're no different than anybody else in baseball. When it's all said and done, if we pitch, we'll be in the hunt. That's what I believe. I think when it's all said and done, we'll hit enough."

Detroit starter Brad Penny said he could've easily given up six runs, but Raburn's catch, Martinez's mad dash and Santiago's relay helped him regain his balance. It could've gone for naught if not for offensive support. After days of seemingly getting big contributions from one area but not another, it all worked together Tuesday.

"We won today," Boesch said, "and we have a chance." Comments