St. Petersburg, FL – Miguel Cabrera went 4-for-5 with a home run and two RBI as the Detroit Tigers took a 5-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a four-game set.
Austin Jackson also was 4-for-5 with a run scored and Delmon Young had two hits and an RBI for the Tigers, who had dropped four of six coming in. Max Scherzer (7-5) gave up two runs on four hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over six-plus innings.
"Any time you can take the opener and get the momentum going into the series, it's a good thing," said Jackson. "We have four games against a good team with great pitching, so this is big."
Brooks Conrad had two hits and a run scored while Elliot Johnson also had two hits and drove in a run for the Rays, who have lost four straight. James Shields (7-5) yielded four runs on 14 hits over 7 2/3 innings in the loss.
"They found every single hole you could possibly find today," said Shields. "There was nothing I could do about it, they had my number tonight."
Detroit took the lead in the third, but a nice defensive play kept the game close. Jackson led off the frame with a single and Quintin Berry followed with a bunt single. Cabrera then hit a blooper that seemed to be heading into right field, but Jeff Keppinger made a leaping grab and tagged second base to catch Jackson off the bag.
The Tigers, though, did rally from the misfortune as Prince Fielder followed with a single and Young scored the first run with a single to left. Alex Avila then hit an opposite-field double to plate Fielder for a 2-0 lead.
The fourth inning saw the Tigers plate another run. Brennan Boesch singled to start the frame and moved to second on Ramon Santiago's groundout. Jackson's hit put runners at the corners. Berry hit a chopper down the first base line that Carlos Pena fielded, but he was unable to get the ball out of his glove cleanly and everyone was safe, with Boesch scoring for a 3-0 lead.
Jackson was thrown out at home later in the inning trying to score on Cabrera's base hit to left.
In the fifth, the Rays got on the board as Conrad led off with a double and Johnson later came home on a single to make it a 3-1 game.
The Tigers, though, got it right back in the sixth on an RBI single from Cabrera that scored Jackson.
Tampa Bay chipped away at its deficit in the seventh. Keppinger led off with a walk and Phil Coke took the mound. Conrad then hit a ball to left field that fell and Conrad misplayed, allowing Keppinger to race home.
Cabrera gave his team some insurance in the ninth when he hit the first pitch he saw from Wade Davis over the wall in right for his 16th home run of the season.
Jose Valverde pitched the final inning to earn his 14th save.
Detroit totaled 15 hits. Every player except for Santiago had at least one hit...The Tigers took two of three from the Rays in Detroit in early April...Detroit batted 5-for-13 with runners in scoring position, but left 11 on base...Tampa Bay went 1-for-6 with RISP and left seven.