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Huff shows right stuff

Huff shows right stuffDETROIT -- When it comes to filling out the lineup card, Jim Leyland might want to start consulting with his wife on a regular basis.

The Detroit Tigers manager said his wife, Katie, convinced him to put Aubrey Huff in the lineup Tuesday night, and it paid off in an 8-5 win against the Cleveland Indians.

Huff reached base four times and knocked in three runs.

Leyland originally planned to rest Huff, but he changed his mind during a discussion with his wife during dinner Monday night.

"She told me to play him," Leyland said. "She said, 'Give him another chance,' and I said 'OK.' "

Huff, who has struggled since coming over in a trade from Baltimore, singled in a run in the four-run first inning, then knocked in two runs with a double in the fourth. He also walked two times and scored a run.

"I've been here a couple weeks now, and to be able to finally contribute, it feels really good," Huff said.

Huff had two hits in his first 27 at-bats with the Tigers after being acquired in a trade, but he is 3-for-9 in his past three games.

"I think I was just trying to do a little too much," Huff said. "I got out of my swing a little bit, and I got back to where I wanted to be tonight."

The Tigers pounded the ball early against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco, who was making his major-league debut. The Tigers scored four runs in the first inning on six hits, including home runs by Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen on back-to-back pitches.

Brandon Inge homered for the Tigers in the third inning to make it 6-1. By the time Carrasco left the game after three innings, every Tigers starter had a hit except Magglio Ordonez, and he reached base on walk in the first inning.

A pitcher generally has an advantage when he faces a new team, so Leyland was a bit surprised to see the Tigers hit Carrasco so hard early in the game.

"That's rare, really," he said. "Usually when you see a new pitcher, you don't get swings off early because you're not quite sure what his stuff's like."

Carrasco (0-1) allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks. He struck out three.

Tigers starter Edwin Jackson (11-6) allowed four runs on nine hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out six.

The Detroit bullpen was nearly flawless. After Zach Miner gave up a leadoff home run in the sixth, he retired three consecutive batters. Bobby Seay retired the next four batters in order and Brandon Lyon the next two.

Fernando Rodney replaced Lyon to start the ninth and recorded his 30th save.

"He's just done a super job," Leyland said. "He's been zeroed in pretty much all year long, and hopefully that will continue."

Huff was happy to contribute but even happier that his contribution meant something. After playing on losing teams throughout his career, he is thrilled to be involved in a pennant race.

"This is just a blast," he said. "Every September game I've just been on the bench counting them down, it seems like. Now, this is newfound life, and it's just been a blast for me."

Leyland seemed to be having fun, too.

"She's definitely always right," Leyland said, referring to his wife and her suggestion to play Huff. "There's no question about that."

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Added: September 4, 2009

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