ATLANTA - Want to win a friendly wager at the office? If so, ask the name of the starting shortstop for the Detroit Tigers. Chances are, no one will be able to.
Few people would guess the answer to be Ramon Santiago. It's also quite likely even the most knowledgable fan would struggle to come up with Randall Simon and Wendell Magee as the team's first baseman and center fielder, or the fact that Jeff Weaver is the ace of Detroit's predominantly inexperienced pitching staff.
Nevertheless, just because their names aren't ingrained in the baseball fan's consciousness, it doesn't mean they can't play the game, a lesson the Atlanta Braves learned during Tuesday night's 6-0 loss to the Tigers before a Turner Field crowd of 28,173 fans.
Credit Weaver for that.
Facing Atlanta (41-29) for the first time, Weaver threw a complete-game gem against the Braves, who managed only five hits against the Tigers ace. Weaver (5-8), who walked two and struck out seven, retired 11 straight batters over one stretch before Rafael Furcal singled leading off the eighth.
"With the Braves, the fact I was facing them for the first time really worked to my advantage," said Weaver, who threw 131 pitches. "They're pretty selective up there. The've got an idea of what they want to do and where they want to hit the ball. Often, it's the team that swings at everything which gives me the most trouble. The Braves aren't like that, and because I was able to make good pitches, I think, helped play in my favor."
Offensively, Weaver received plenty of help, including some from Santiago, who went 3-for-4 with three runs. Simon and Magee each drove home two.
Wes Helms, who started at third in place of the injured Vinny Castilla (strained hamstring), had two of Atlanta's hits.
"He spotted the ball well all night," Helms said. "We couldn't do anything with him."
It didn't take the Tigers long to figure out Braves starter Jason Marquis.
Following a leadoff walk to Santiago, Damian Jackson singled him over to third, setting up Robert Fick, who drove home the game's first run with a sacrifice fly to right.
Weaver was thrilled with the early show of support.
In his previous 14 starts, the right-hander had received just 3.31 runs per game, the fifth-worse mark in baseball (third in the American League).
Much to Weaver's delight, this wasn't one of those occasions. Two innings later, Detroit extended its margin to 4-0, using a two-run single by Simon, a former Brave, and Magee's sacrifice fly to highlight the Tigers' three-run third.
"I haven't got runs too often, so when I do get them, I like to put them to good use," said Weaver, who retired 17 of the final 18 batters he faced. "Three starts ago, I got five runs but gave them all back. I've made up my mind not to let that happen anymore."
The Tigers added another run in the fifth on Magee's second sacrifice fly, which Santiago scored after Detroit loaded the bases against Marquis to start the inning.
Marquis (5-4), who was replaced by Kerry Ligtenberg, surrendered five hits and four walks in his four-plus innings of work.
Santiago capped the offense for Detroit with a one-out single in the sixth, scoring Brandon Inge from third to account for the final 6-0 score.
"We just got shut down," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "What can you say? Sometimes you just have to tip your cap."
Anthony Dasher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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