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


”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


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


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