Tigers 6, Rays 3

The Detroit Tigers leaned on two of their newest players to win
a second straight game.

Charlie Furbush won in his major league debut and Andy Dirks hit
his first career homer, helping Detroit beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3
Monday night.

”There’s nothing like it in the world,” said Dirks, a week
after making his big league debut. ”I’ll remember it for the rest
of my life.”

Furbush (1-0) pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings of relief,
suddenly entering the game after Detroit starter Phil Coke injured
his right ankle.

”He didn’t have time to think about it, he just pitched,”
Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ”I didn’t say anything to him. I
just gave him the ball.”

Victor Martinez hit a two-run double and Jhonny Peralta had a
two-run single in the eighth inning to turn a one-run lead into a
five-run cushion.

”Those add-on runs were huge,” Leyland said.

Jose Valverde gave up two runs in the ninth, but avoided a total
collapse by getting ex-Tiger Johnny Damon to line out to Miguel
Cabrera at first with two on for the final out.

”That game wasn’t lost in the ninth,” Rays manager Joe Maddon
said. ”It was lost early on when we didn’t take advantage of those
scoring opportunities early in the game.”

Furbush had something to do with that.

He replaced Coke and took advantage of the chance, two days
after the highly touted left-hander was called up from Triple-A
Toledo. He started off by walking Sean Rodriguez to load the bases,
then got out of the one-out jam by striking out Felipe Lopez and
Kelly Shoppach to earn a standing ovation.

”He showed some great poise in that situation,” Maddon said.
”I’m not saying we should have pounded him, but you have to at
least get the ball moving and give yourself a chance.”

Jeremy Hellickson (5-3) allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1-3
innings. He had a shot to be the first Tampa Bay rookie to win five
straight starts, but his light-hitting teammates weren’t much
help.

”Helly pitched a great game, but we didn’t get the runs we
needed,” Maddon said.

The Tigers, meanwhile, scored more than three runs for the first
time in nine games. In fact, they did that with two outs in the
eighth inning alone after leading by only a run.

Detroit has won two straight after losing five in a row.

Tampa Bay has lost five of seven after building a season-high,
three-game lead over the New York Yankees in the AL East.

After the start of the series opener was delayed 27 minutes by
rain, Evan Longoria’s sacrifice fly gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the
fourth inning. Dirks made it 1-all in the fifth with his first
homer in the majors.

Coke started strong, needing just nine pitches to retire the
side in the first and keeping the Rays off the basepaths until B.J.
Upton drew a leadoff walk in the fourth. Coke’s outing ended in
that inning though, when Ben Zobrist laid down a perfect bunt on
the left side of the infield and the pitcher injured his right
ankle trying to field it.

”We’re waiting for test results,” Leyland said.

Coke said he has a bone bruise.

Rays shortstop Elliot Johnson left in the fifth with a sore left
knee after being thrown out attempting to steal third. Johnson was
limping badly after the game.

The Tigers went ahead in the sixth when Brennan Boesch hit a
two-out double and scored – getting around a throw up the
third-base line from Matt Joyce in right – on Cabrera’s tiebreaking
single.

Hellickson was removed with one out in the seventh after making
100 pitches. J.P. Howell made the move pay off, getting Alex Avila
to ground into an inning-ending double play that kept Tampa Bay
within a run. But the Rays are struggling on offense – they have
scored three runs or fewer in eight of the last 11 games.

Howell and Juan Cruz combined to give up four runs in the
eighth.

NOTES: Tampa Bay and the 2010 Minnesota Twins are the only teams
in major league history to avoid having more than one error in
their first 48 games, according to statistics provided by the Rays
from the Elias Sports Bureau. … Detroit OF Magglio Ordonez, who
has been on the DL with an injured right ankle, is expected to work
out on the field before Friday’s game against Boston. … Tampa Bay
plans to stick with RHP Andy Sonnanstine in the series finale
Wednesday despite his 0-1 record and 6.08 ERA in three starts this
year. … Leyland downplayed the importance of the 10-game
homestand against Tampa Bay, Boston and Minnesota because it’s late
May. ”We haven’t even started sweating yet,” Leyland said. …
Rays OF Justin Ruggiano was taken out of the lineup with a stomach
ailment.