Monday, July 07, 2014
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Rays take third in a row from Tigers

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[July 07, 2014]  DETROIT -- The Tampa Bay Rays have a long, steep hill to climb, but they believe their steady approach will give them a chance to do it.

"We're not going away," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said Sunday after All-Star David Price came within one out of a complete game and both Ben Zobrist and Sean Rodriguez had four hits apiece in a 19-hit attack that produced a 7-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Tampa Bay went 9-2 on a just-concluded road trip, including three consecutive wins over Detroit. Despite the surge, the fourth-place Rays (41-50) remain 8 1/2 games behind the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles.

"Now we go home to face Kansas City and Toronto," Maddon said. "Again, our objective is to win each series. If we can do that, I'll take that going into the All-Star break."

Maddon and Price credited the Rays' defense for the win.

"I got 26 outs," Price said. "But 15 were hit absolutely on the screws. Before the game I was asking for 'at-'em' balls -- and I got them. I got some breaks."

Price gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks with six strikeouts.

Maddon said, "I was just hoping to get David through the ninth. The game turned on our defense. That was Rays type of defense right there. That's a big part of us doing what we're doing.

"It's important that we're not looking way up there. It's about overtaking the next one above us, then the next one above us, then the next one above us."

Tampa Bay was taking on a Tigers pitcher, right-hander Rick Porcello, who took a 25 1/3-inning scoreless streak into the game. The streak ended after two batters.

"It's important to get on him early," Maddon said. "If you don't, he settles in."

Porcello (11-5) is one of five players involved in the online voting for the 34th player on the AL All-Star team. He gave up seven runs on 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"He was a little up in the zone," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We've said all along the key for him is being down with his sinker. When it gets up, it gets flat and you see more fly balls. He made the adjustment, he started to get the ball down in the zone, he got some ground balls, a couple of them found holes and ended up being hits, but he was getting the ground balls that he was trying to get. But that's going to happen sometimes when you get a ground ball pitcher.

"Certainly, that's not indicative of the type of pitcher Rick is. His last couple starts were outstanding, and it just so happened that, timing-wise it wasn't great for him. But he certainly deserves to be an All-Star."

Center fielder Desmond Jennings, who had three hits, doubled in the first inning and scored on a single by shortstop Zobrist. Left fielder Matt Joyce then hit his seventh home run for a 3-0 lead three batters deep into the game.

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Third baseman Evan Longoria had an RBI single in the fifth to make it 4-1, and the Rays tacked on three more in the sixth. Jennings hit his eighth home run immediately after right fielder Kevin Kiermaier drove in a run with a forceout.

Price (8-7) was Tampa Bay's lone All-Star selection, while Detroit had first baseman Miguel Cabrera voted a starter, right-hander Max Scherzer selected as one of the pitchers and designated hitter Victor Martinez as a reserve.

Martinez didn't play for the second consecutive game due to a sore right side, and he may have to sit one or both of Detroit's games against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the upcoming series.

"It would have made no sense for me to play him (Sunday)," Ausmus said. "Not with a day off coming Monday. We'll see what his availability is Tuesday."

Cabrera's sacrifice fly in the first gave the Tigers a flicker of hope, but they didn't score again until right fielder Torii Hunter opened the seventh with his 11th home run. Designated hitter J.D. Martinez began the ninth with his 12th home run.

The Rays improved to 17-8 since June 11.

"We just went to Baltimore, New York (Yankees) and Detroit and came out 9-2," Maddon said. "I think we're one of the best teams in the American League. I've thought that from Day One, it's just that our record didn't reflect it."

Price said, "This is the type of baseball we expected to play all year. We've just got to keep winning games."

NOTES: Tigers LHP Ian Krol (left shoulder inflammation) was activated from the disabled list, and he pitched to two Tampa Bay hitters, giving up two singles. LHP Patrick McCoy (right hamstring strain) replaced him on the disabled list. ... Rays LHP Cesar Ramos comes off the paternity list Monday. His wife gave birth to their first child, a daughter, on Saturday. ... After the game, the Rays announced that LHP Jeff Beliveau and INF Vince Belnome would be optioned to the minors, replaced by Ramos and RHP Jeremy Hellickson, who starts Tuesday with LHP Erik Bedard moving to the bullpen.


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