Workhorse right-hander James Shields aims for his second win of the year against Detroit and the sixth of his career when the Tampa Bay Rays host the Tigers in the opener of a four-game series at Tropicana Field.
Shields, a 30-year-old California native, was a 4-2 winner when the teams met on April 11 in Detroit. He earned his first victory of the season after going eight innings and allowing two runs on six hits.
He won his initial five decisions of the 2012 campaign, but is just 2-4 since.
In eight lifetime meetings with the Tigers, he is 5-0 with a 3.51 earned run average and 41 strikeouts across 51 1/3 innings, while permitting a .270 opposition batting average.
On Wednesday in Kansas City, Billy Butler's solo homer in the bottom of the eighth inning lifted the Royals over the Rays, 5-4, in the finale of a three- game series.
Ben Zobrist went 3-for-4 with three RBI in the loss for the Rays, who went 3-6 on a nine-game road trip. Jeff Keppinger drove in a run.
"It was tough. It's a tough way to end a road trip," Zobrist said. "They played great over there. They did everything. They hit the ball really well this series. They pitched really well and played good defense. We just couldn't really get anything going."
Matt Moore allowed four runs on 10 hits over 7 1/3 innings. Burke Badenhop (1-2) gave up the homer to Butler to take the loss.
Also on Wednesday, in Texas, David Murphy had two homers among his four hits and drove in five runs, leading the Rangers to a wild 13-9 win over the Tigers.
Quintin Berry, Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta had three hits apiece for the Tigers, but they lost for the fourth time in their last six games.
Doug Fister (1-5) gave up nine runs - eight earned - in just 4 1/3 innings to take the loss. He allowed nine hits, a walk and struck out five.
The Rangers scored two runs in the eighth after Detroit had pulled within 11-9 in the top of the inning and Joe Nathan kept the Tigers off the board in the ninth.
On Thursday, Tampa Bay's Shields will be opposed by Detroit righty Max Scherzer, who's won five of seven decisions since starting the season at 1-3.
The St. Louis native defeated Colorado, 5-0, after allowing seven hits in eight scoreless innings on June 17, then dropped a 4-1 verdict at Pittsburgh six days later after allowing three runs on three hits in six innings.
He's struck out at least seven batters in three straight starts and eight times in 15 starts overall - accounting for 107 Ks in 84 1/3 innings.
Scherzer is 4-3 in nine road starts this season with a 5.01 earned run average.
The Tigers lead the all-time series between the teams, 54-52, and won six of seven last season and two of three in a series earlier this season at Comerica Park. The Rays' only win against them in 2012 came from Shields.