St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - One night after Matt Garza pitched the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay franchise history, the Rays used a solid outing from starter James Shields and a timely RBI double by Matt Joyce to defeat the Detroit Tigers, 3-2, in the continuation of a four-game series.
Shields (9-9) tossed 6 2/3 innings allowed two runs on nine hits with seven strikeouts for the Rays, who have won four straight and moved within two games of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer in the victory.
Ryan Raburn drove in a run for the Tigers, who have dropped four of their last five contests.
Detroit's ace right-hander Justin Verlander pitched a complete game but suffered the loss. Verlander (12-6), who lost for the first time in his career against the Rays, permitted three runs on five hits with six strikeouts and three walks.
With the scored tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Carl Crawford laced a single to shallow center field with one out and then stole second. Joyce then doubled down the right-field line to score Crawford.
Tampa reliever Randy Choate replaced Shields with a runner on first and two outs in the top of the seventh. Choate allowed a base hit to Johnny Damon and then intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera to load the bases. The third pitcher of the inning, Grant Balfour, then entered the game and struck out Brennan Boesch.
Joaquin Benoit struck out the side in the eighth and closer Rafael Soriano came on for a shaky ninth. Soriano got the first out, but then surrendered a ground-rule double and a single to put runners on the corners. Damon then worked a walk to load the bases for Cabrera, who grounded into a game-ending 5-4-3 double play for his 27th save of the season.
The Rays grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first inning. A two-out walk to Evan Longoria preceded a blast by Pena deep over the wall in right-center field. It was Pena's 22nd home run of the season.
In the top of the second, Shields struck out Ramon Santiago with two men on base and then got three straight outs in the fourth after Cabrera led off with a double.
Shields escaped potential trouble in the top of the fifth. Alex Avila led off with a single and Scott Sizemore doubled to put two runners in scoring position with no outs. After Santiago fanned, Austin Jackson hit a soft grounder back to Shields for the second out and Will Rhymes popped out.
Again in the sixth, Shields allowed a single and a double to the first two batters of the inning, this time in the form of Damon and Cabrera, but did not elude trouble this time. With one out, Raburn hit a chopper to the middle of the infield and both runners scored as the throw to first by Jason Bartlett went wide and created a 2-2 score. Shields eventually settled down and got two straight outs to prevent further damage.
This was the Rays' fourth consecutive home win...Verlander lost for the first time since June 22 at the Mets...Rays center fielder B.J. Upton left the game in the first inning due to a lower body injury...The Tigers outhit the Rays, 12-5, and stranded 11 baserunners...Verlander threw 113 pitches.