Tigers 6, Rays 3

BY foxsports • May 24, 2011

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.

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