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Rodney pumped up

Rodney pumped up
DETROIT -- Fernando Rodney pumped his fist after he struck out the side to end the game as 28,693 fans roared their approval at Comerica Park.

His uppercut move was fitting after adding the knockout blow of a superb bullpen performance by the Detroit Tigers .

Nate Robertson got his first win of the year with two innings of perfect relief, and Rodney earned his first save Saturday in a 4-3 win over the Texas Rangers.

Two pitchers who entered the season as question marks after a disappointing 2008, and showing nothing special in spring training, are looking pretty valuable now.

"The bullpen was absolutely tremendous and so was Justin Verlander," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.

Verlander gave up just two hits and one earned run in five innings, and the bullpen combined for four perfect innings.

Southpaw Bobby Seay retired lefties Josh Hamilton and Hank Blalock before Ryan Perry got Nelson Cruz to pop up in the eighth. They handled the 3-4-5 hitters to get the game to Rodney.

"I feel great because I worked hard in spring training for a game like that," Rodney said.

"I changed my mechanics to work on short-arming. My arm was too high, and now I have the same motion I had in 2006."

Rodney said he didn't feel right last year after coming off tendinitis in his right shoulder and missing the first 11 weeks of the season.

"But now I am healthy and I am ready to go 100 percent," Rodney said. "I had a consistent fastball with good location."

The control problems of the past appear to be cured. He has thrown 16 strikes with 21 pitches in two perfect innings this season.

"He's more comfortable with his delivery," Leyland said, "and it's easier to pick up your speed that way. I think (his delivery) is a lot smoother."

David Murphy struck out swinging on a changeup, and got the same result with fastballs to Chris Davis and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Then Rodney, a big boxing fan, threw his uppercut.

"That's the ballgame there," Rodney said.

Verlander threw 97 pitches in five innings for an early exit prompted by errors.

A two-run single in the second by Adam Everett gave him the lead, but errors by Everett and Brandon Inge led to a pair of runs that put Texas ahead 3-2 in the fifth.

And that's where the bullpen made a stand.

Robertson, with a 2.45 ERA after three relief appearances, was the glue to the outcome. Leyland was most impressed with his former left-handed starter getting tough righties Ian Kinsler and Michael Young to ground out to end the seventh.

"That was huge for us," Leyland said. "Nate was disappointed (about going to the bullpen), but what he did today was as important as someone giving you five innings. I was thrilled."

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 14, 2009

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