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Rays lose opener against Tigers

Posted By Will Creager On Jun 29 2012 @ 12:35 am In Tampa Bay Devil Rays | No Comments

The Tampa Bay Rays (40-36) opened up a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers (37-39) today with a 5-2 loss. The Rays have lost four games in a row, and seven of their last nine, and today’s loss put them .5 games behind the Boston Red Sox, who are playing in Seattle tonight, in fourth place in the AL East. Max Scherzer (7-5) got the win and James Shields (7-5) got the loss, while Jose Valverde picked up his 14th save of the season.

The Tigers took the first lead of the game in the third inning. Speedsters Austin Jackson and Quitin Berry both singled to lead off the inning, but then James Shields caught a break as slugger Miguel Cabrera lined out to second baseman Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger then stepped on second base just before Austin Jackson could get back, turning it into an unassisted double play. However, Prince Fielder kept the inning going with a base hit, and the Tigers cashed in with back-to-back RBI hits by Delmon Young and Alex Avila and took a 2-0 lead.

After the Rays failed to score in their half of the third, the Tigers went back to work in the fourth, with Berry picking up an RBI while reaching on an error.

The Rays finally broke through with a run of their own in the fifth inning, as newly acquired Brooks Conrad led off the inning with a double, and then Elliot Johnson singled him home.

However, Shields failed to keep it at a 3-1 game, as Cabrera drove home Jackson with an RBI single in the sixth inning.

The Rays again made it a two-run game, as Keppinger led off the seventh inning with a walk, knocking Scherzer out of the game. Conrad then greeted new pitcher Phil Coke with an RBI double, but Coke didn’t allow Conrad to advance past second to preserve a 4-2 lead for the Tigers.

Jackson hit a two-out triple, his fourth hit of the night, to knock Shields out in the eighth inning, but Jake McGee came in and retired Berry to get him out of the jam. Shields went 7.2 innings, allowing four runs on 14 hits while striking out six and walking just one batter.

The Rays didn’t do much off of the Tigers’ setup man, Joaquin Benoit, getting just a two-out single by Ben Zobrist. Cabrera then padded the Tigers’ lead by leading off the ninth inning with a home run. Valverde then came in and retired the side in order in the Rays’ half of the ninth.

The series resumes tomorrow night, at 7:10 PM ET, with a great pitching matchup, as David Price (10-4, 2.95 ERA) takes the mound against the reigning AL Cy Young and MVP awards winner, Justin Verlander (8-4, 2.52 ERA).

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