Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Friday, May 20, 2016, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
DETROIT (AP) Brad Ausmus and Anibal Sanchez have one important thing in common right now.
They can't figure out why Sanchez can't pitch more than five innings.
It isn't a surprise to Ausmus at this point – he had relievers warming up at the start of the sixth inning even though Sanchez had retired the previous 10 hitters. However, it is still a major problem.
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''If our starters can't go more than five innings, it is going to wreck our bullpen,'' Ausmus said after the Detroit Tigers' 7-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night.
As it was, Sanchez's stamina issues meant Ausmus had to throw a long reliever into a tie game when the first two batters of the sixth reached base. Kyle Ryan retired the next two, but walked Logan Morrison before Kevin Kiermaier tripled into the right-field corner.
''If you go to the back of the bullpen, Justin Wilson in the sixth inning, you're in dire straits in the seventh or eighth, when it's a one-run game or something,'' Ausmus said. ''Those guys have pitched in those situations before and done a good job.''
With Ryan having just walked Morrison to load the bases, Kiermaier got a cutter over the plate, and yanked it down the line. That made it 6-3.
Steven Souza and Steve Pearce homered for the Rays, while Miguel Cabrera homered twice for the Tigers, who snapped a four-game winning streak.
''I saw way too much of Miggy when I was with Cleveland,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''The guy is unbelievable. The pitchers hate giving up homers, but all you can do is tell him `Hey, he's the best.'''
Matt Andriese (3-0) picked up the win despite allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings. Four relievers followed, with Alex Colome pitching the ninth for his 11th save in 11 chances.
Sanchez (3-5) allowed five runs in five-plus innings for the Tigers.
Sanchez has struggled early in games this year as opponents have a .864 OPS against him on the second time through the batting order. Things got worse on Friday. Souza homered on his second pitch, and Tampa Bay added two more runs in the first on Corey Dickerson's double and Morrison's single.
''I know everything is coming out good, and it isn't mental,'' said Sanchez, whose ERA went to 6.23. ''In the first inning, I give up a ground ball on the line and a ground-ball infield single and they get two runs. In the sixth, base hit, walk and runs. What can I do?''
The Tigers got a run back in the second when Andriese balked with runners on the corners, and Detroit tied the score in the third.
Ian Kinsler singled, but J.D. Martinez hit what looked like a routine double-play ball to shortstop Brad Miller. Second baseman Pearce, though, was shifted to the left-field side of second base and froze instead of covering second base. Pearce, normally a first baseman and corner outfielder, was making just his 19th career start at second.
Miller threw Martinez out, but it cost Andriese a run when Cabrera homered three pitches later.
After Kiermaier's triple, the Tigers got a run back in the bottom of the sixth, but Evan Longoria made an outstanding play to start an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.
Cabrera made it 6-5 in the seventh, homering off the facing of the camera platform in straightaway center field off Erasmo Ramirez. Pearce, though, moved the lead back to two with an eighth-inning homer off Alex Wilson.
Rays: RHP Brad Boxberger is scheduled to make a relief outing with Triple-A Durham on Saturday. Boxberger was an All-Star as Tampa's closer in 2015, but has been sidelined this season after adductor surgery. He has made two one-inning rehab appearances for Single-A Charlotte.
Tigers: RHP Shane Greene, sidelined since April 25 with a blister, pitched three scoreless innings in a rehab start with Low-A West Michigan Friday night. He's expected to make at least one more rehab appearance before rejoining the Tigers.
STOLEN BASE STREAK
Cameron Maybin has stolen a base in each of his four games since returning from the disabled list on Monday. Rajai Davis had a four-game streak in 2014, but Ron LeFlore and Ty Cobb are the only Tigers to reach five since 1913. LeFlore has the modern franchise record with a six-game streak in 1977.
The teams play the second game of their three-game weekend series Saturday afternoon, with former Tiger Drew Smyly (2-4, 3.44) facing Michael Fulmer (2-1, 6.52). The pair were each part of major trading-deadline moves by Dave Dombrowski, with Smyly going to Tampa Bay in a 2014 trade for David Price, while Fulmer came from the Mets last season in exchange for Yoenis Cespedes.