DETROIT – Brennan Boesch drove in four runs on his 27th birthday, leading the Detroit Tigers to their fifth win in six games to start the season, 7-2 over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.
Drew Smyly gave up a run in four-plus innings in his major league debut. Despite having the American League's best record, Tigers starters have not earned a win.
Collin Balester (1-0) won this one with two innings of relief.
The Tigers trailed 1-0 until scoring three runs off Jeff Niemann (0-1) in the fifth. Alex Avila walked and score on Andy Dirks' one-out triple. Ryan Raburn struck out, but Austin Jackson walked and stole second before Boesch's two-run single.
The Rays got a run back on Evan Longoria's RBI single in the seventh, but Jeff Keppinger lined into a double play and Phil Coke retired Ben Zobrist to end the inning. Boesch then hit another two-run single in the bottom of the inning.
Avila hit an RBI triple in the eighth, then scored Detroit's seventh run on a wild pitch.
Smyly had a shaky beginning to his first start, loading the bases on two walks and a single. But Smyly got out of the inning on a pop-up and two strikeouts.
He gave up four hits, walked three and struck out four.
Carlos Pena opened the scoring with a homer in the third. Smyly hit Pena with a pitch to lead off the fifth and was taken out for Balester.
NOTES: Jeremy Hellickson, who was taken to a hospital after being hit in the head during batting practice Wednesday, passed a battery of tests and is expected to make his scheduled start on Saturday in Boston. ... The Tigers are starting the season with nine straight day games, the longest streak by an American League team since the White Sox in 2004.