Rays 4, Tigers 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)
David Price keeps on pitching like an All-Star.
''He's one of the best pitchers, there's no question about it. Everybody knows that,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ''He's a power pitcher. He basically comes at you with power.''
Price (14-5) allowed two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings, tying the team record for wins in a season. He struck out nine and walked two.
''We've played good baseball,'' Price said. ''We're trying to keep it going. We're working hard. Our starting staff gets after it.''
Pena hit a second-inning solo homer and added a two-run single during the third that went off the glove of first baseman Miguel Cabrera to put the Rays up 3-1. Pena made it 4-2 with an eighth-inning infield single that deflected off the glove of a lunging Cabrera.
''I hit them pretty hard, so it was a tough play for him,'' Pena said. ''One of them was one of those top-spinners - a slider right to him. I'm just glad it was able to work out in our favor.''
Rays manager Joe Maddon's unconventional approach worked for the third consecutive game when he intentionally walked Cabrera with runners on first and second in the seventh with two outs. With Tampa Bay ahead 3-2, Randy Choate retired rookie Brennan Boesch on a grounder.
Boesch struck out and flied out against Grant Balfour in the similar circumstance Tuesday and Wednesday.
''Sometimes this is a good process for him to have to fight through it and I think he will,'' Leyland said.
Rick Porcello (4-9) gave up four runs and five hits in 7 1-3 innings, and he has lost five consecutive decisions for the first time in his major league career. Detroit has lost 10 straight road games and is 3-12 since the All-Star break.
Tampa Bay has won six straight and is 19-6 since June 30. Dan Wheeler pitched the final two innings to pick up his second save.
Second-place Tampa Bay opens a home three-game series with the AL East-leading New York Yankees on Friday night.
It will be the Yankees first trip to Florida since owner George Steinbrenner, who resided in nearby Tampa, died of a heart attack on July 13. The Boss had been planning to see his team play in person this weekend for the first time since opening day at Yankee Stadium, when he received his 2009 World Series ring from team captain Derek Jeter and manager Joe Girardi.
Yankees co-chairmen Hal and Hank Steinbrenner are expected to be in attendance for the series in which all three games will be sold out. It's first time the Rays will have three consecutive sellouts at Tropicana Field.
''I'm sure there's going to be a vibe,'' Maddon said. ''They're playing well. We're playing well. It's going to be interesting. I know we're going to be excited to play.''
NOTES: Cabrera struck out in all three at-bats against Price. ''If he was going to beat me, I wanted it to be with my best pitch - and that's a fastball,'' Price said. ... James Shields (2008), Edwin Jackson (2008) and Rolando Arrojo (1998) had 14-win seasons for Tampa Bay. ... Leyland said Rays 3B Evan Longoria has become an MVP candidate. ''He's one of the players I really admire a lot,'' Leyland said. ''He's a perfect example of an excellent, excellent, two-way player. ... Rays INF-OF Ben Zobrist (lower back stiffness) and CF B.J. Upton (sprained left ankle) were both out of the lineup. ... The Tigers were 4 for 29 with runners in scoring position during the series.