Tigers rally late to extend winning streak to 6 games
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Ian Kinsler lowered his head and kept running, paving the way for another Detroit victory.
The veteran leadoff man scored from second base on a force play during a three-run eighth inning, then slugged his 200th career home run in the ninth as the Tigers rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 and extend their winning streak to six games Sunday.
Justin Upton snapped a 1-1 tie with a two-run double and Kinsler's 16th homer of the season gave the bullpen a comfortable cushion to finish off a four-game sweep of the plummeting Rays.
But it was Kinsler's baserunning in the eighth that was the hot topic of discussion.
''That kind of got us going really. It was great, heads-up baserunning, aggressive baserunning,'' Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. ''Of course the two-run homer didn't hurt, but that really got us going prior to that.''
Upton's line drive into the gap got past diving center fielder Brandon Guyer and rolled to the wall to finish the eighth-inning rally, which Kinsler began with a double off Matt Andriese (6-2). Victor Martinez kept it alive by hustling up the first base line to avoid grounding into what would have been an inning-ending double play that would have allowed the Rays to cling to a 1-0 lead.
Kinsler rounded third and scored on the play.
''I do that every time I'm on second. When there's an opportunity for a double play across the infield, that's something I was taught - with two outs, you have an opportunity to score a run right there,'' Kinsler said.
''And obviously the play doesn't happen if Victor is not busting his tail down that line and beating that throw,'' Kinsler added. ''You're just looking for opportunities to score, and on that play it worked out perfect.''
With his two-run homer, Kinsler joined Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins as the only active players with at least 200 home runs, 1,000 runs scored, 1,600 hits and 200 stolen bases.
Bruce Rondon (2-0) retired the only two batters he faced, bailing starter Mike Pelfrey out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to get the victory.
Rays starter Chris Archer overcame a shaky first inning to pitch into the sixth with a 1-0 lead. The AL strikeout leader allowed the first three batters to reach base before fanning Martinez, Castellanos and Upton to put down the threat.
Archer finished with 10 strikeouts, boosting his season total to 127 while limiting the Tigers to a pair of singles over 5 2-3 scoreless innings.
Tampa Bay was swept in a four-game series for the second time this year and has lost 16 of 18 to fall a season-high 15 games under .500.
''Another tough loss. It got away from us there at the end of the ballgame,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
''Can't help but feel really good about what Chris Archer did. For the way it started and the way he kicked it into gear,'' Cash said. ''That was an outstanding effort, outstanding performance for him to even get remotely close to getting his pitch count back in order. You don't foresee guys going that deep like he did.''
Tigers: CF Cameron Maybin, who batted .591 (13 for 21) in six games against Tampa Bay this season, was out one day after a seven-game hitting streak ended. He entered the game as a pinch-runner.
Rays: CF Desmond Jennings (left hamstring tightness) was out of the lineup for the third straight game. . Closer Alex Colome (right biceps tendinitis) had a bullpen session. . INF Steve Pearce (strained right hamstring) hit in an indoor cage. . RHPs Chase Whitley (Tommy John surgery) and Brad Boxberger (left oblique) will throw to hitters on Wednesday.
RELIEF ON THE WAY?
The Rays concluded a stretch in which they played 20 consecutive games against teams with winning records, going 4-16. The last-place Angels arrive Monday for a four-game series that finishes an 11-game homestand. Tampa Bay has played more games (62) against opponents with a .500 or better mark than any other team.
GETTING IT DONE
Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez had two saves in the series, giving him 23 in 25 opportunities this season. That's the third-most saves before the All-Star break in franchise history, one behind Todd Jones and Jose Valverde, who had 24 before the break in 2000 and 2011, respectively.
Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (1-0) will make his third start of the season Monday night at Cleveland. He allowed two runs and eight hits over five innings of a 10-3 victory over Miami last Wednesday.
Rays: LHP Matt Moore (4-5) faces the Los Angeles Angels for the first time since September 2013, when Tampa Bay begins a four-game series Monday. Moore is 3-0 with 1.52 ERA in four career starts against the Angels.