Detroit, MI – A four-run rally in the ninth inning, which began against the nearly unhittable Justin Verlander and culminated with Ben Zobrist's go-ahead two-run single, gave the Rays a 4-2 win over the Tigers on Wednesday.
Verlander (0-1) held a 2-0 lead and had allowed just one hit entering the ninth, but singles by Jeff Keppinger and Desmond Jennings put runners at the corners with one down. Keppinger scored on a wild pitch and Evan Longoria tied it with an RBI single, driving the 2011 American League MVP and CY Young Award winner from the game.
The bases were loaded two batters later when Zobrist put Tampa Bay on top with a two-run single up the middle off of Jose Valverde.
Fernando Rodney retired Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Jhonny Peralta in order to earn his third save of the season. James Shields (1-0) got the win after allowing two runs on six hits over eight innings and the Rays, who swept the Yankees to begin the season, rebounded from Tuesday's 5-2 loss in the opener of this three-game series.
Verlander suffered his first loss in 15 starts dating back to July 15 of last year against the White Sox. He was charged with all four runs on four hits over 8 1/3 innings.
Cabrera knocked in a run in the first for the Tigers, who were attempting to start the season with five straight wins for the first time since 2006.
Zobrist broke up Verlander's no-hitter with a one-out single in the fifth, advanced to second on a balk and to third on a fly out, but Jose Lobaton grounded out to end the threat.
Andy Dirks led off the home fifth with a double, moved to third on a groundout and made it 2-0 on a Shields balk.
Verlander retired the next nine batters in order before Keppinger's leadoff single in the ninth.
Shields improved to 5-0 in eight career starts versus the Tigers...The Tigers had won eight of their previous nine games against the Rays...Prior to the game, Rays pitcher Jeremy Hellickson was hit in the head by a ball during batting practice. He was alert and responsive and was taken to a nearby hospital for observation...Detroit announced Wednesday that designated hitter Victor Martinez does not need a second surgery to reconstruct the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. Martinez, who suffered a torn ACL during his offseason conditioning, had microfracture surgery in January.