Tigers 2, Rays 1

The Detroit Tigers were facing a potentially long night with a

short-handed bullpen against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Starter Brad Penny wouldn’t let that be an issue. He pitched

effectively into the seventh inning, Alex Avila had an RBI single

and the Tigers beat the Rays 2-1 on Tuesday night.

”You know you’re running into a buzzsaw with that (Tampa Bay)

pitching staff, but we pitched pretty good, too,” Tigers manager

Jim Leyland said. ”Brad got in some trouble, but he pitched his

way out of it.”

Penny (9-9) gave up one run and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings.

He had gone 1-3 with a 6.99 ERA in his previous five starts.

Phil Coke allowed two doubles, two intentional walks and struck

out five over the final two innings for his first save. Leyland

stuck to his plan of giving eighth-inning setup man Joaquin Benoit

and closer Jose Valverde the night off.

After Johnny Damon hit two-out double and Evan Longoria was

intentionally walked in the ninth, both advanced one base on Coke’s

wild pitch. Ben Zobrist then hit three foul balls on 3-2 pitches

before grounding out to end the game.

”That was awesome,” Coke said. ”I’m just glad I got him out.

That was a battle, and it was fun. I enjoyed myself.”

David Price (11-11) allowed two runs and six hits in eight

innings. The Tampa Bay left-hander was coming off consecutive road

wins against the New York Yankees and Boston in which the AL

All-Star was touched for one run and nine hits in a combined 16

innings.

”They’ve got a good team,” Price said. ”They’re in the

playoff hunt right now so they’re feeling good about

themselves.”

The game started after a 20-minute delay because of a

weather-related problem with the lights at Tropicana Field. The

Rays say thunderstorms in the area affected a power line running

into the domed stadium, which caused the problem.

Detroit scored twice in the seventh, ending Price’s scoreless

streak at 18 consecutive innings, and took a 2-1 lead on Avila’s

RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Jhonny Peralta.

Avila, who hit a two-run homer in Monday night’s 5-2 win over

the Rays, has 15 RBIs in 19 games this month.

Zobrist put the Rays ahead 1-0 on a third-inning RBI double. He

has 42 doubles this season.

”Overall, this is the kind of game when if you’re going to the

playoffs, you win, and when you’re not, you don’t,” Tampa Bay

manager Joe Maddon said. ”We’ve got to start winning these games

to go the playoffs. You have to win 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 games to win

championships.”

Penny gave up hits in five of his first six innings, but was

able to limit the damage. The right-hander left with one out in the

seventh after walking pinch hitter John Jaso.

Daniel Schlereth, who replaced Penny, got one out before giving

up a single to Desmond Jennings and walking Damon to load the

bases. Ryan Perry worked out of the jam by getting a fly ball to

center from Longoria.

”Perry got a huge out, that’s good to see,” Leyland said.

”Maybe that’s a confidence builder for him.”

Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, a late scratch Monday

because of lower back spasms, had a double in four at-bats.

Notes: Tampa Bay CF B.J. Upton, who sprained his right shoulder

Monday, struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh. … Tigers RHP

Al Alburquerque (concussion) could be re-evaluated later this week.

… Detroit RHP Max Scherzer (13-7) will face Rays RHP Wade Davis

(8-7) in the third game of the four-game set Wednesday night. …

Rays RHP Alex Cobb, who underwent surgery last Thursday to remove a

blockage in the area of his first right rib, was back at the

ballpark. The rookie is thinking about keeping the pinkie size rib

that was removed during the procedure in his locker. ”I think it’s

a good thought and it’s a reminder,” Maddon said. ”But I do not

need to see it.”