Rays fall to Tigers 5-2 for first defeat

Posted April 10, 2012, at 7:53 p.m.

DETROIT — With the score tied in the fifth inning, Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera to load the bases for Prince Fielder.

The move worked when Fielder hit a routine flyball.

In the eighth, Maddon decided to challenge Fielder again, with first base open and a left-hander on the mound.

“Prince hit the ball in the perfect spot,” Maddon said.

Fielder’s single up the middle scored Miguel Cabrera from second, part of a snowy eighth-inning rally that gave the Detroit Tigers a 5-2 win over the Rays on Tuesday.

Austin Jackson homered for Detroit, which is the AL’s last unbeaten team after handing the Rays their first defeat.

After Fielder’s tiebreaking single, a light snow shower passed briefly over Comerica Park. Jhonny Peralta added a sacrifice fly later in the inning, and Gerald Laird’s RBI single gave the Tigers a three-run lead. Phil Coke (1-0) pitched the eighth, and Jose Valverde finished for his first save of the season.

Valverde blew a save for the first time since 2010 in Thursday’s opener against Boston.

After Cabrera’s leadoff double in the bottom of the eighth, Tampa Bay chose to pitch to Fielder, Detroit’s left-handed swinging cleanup hitter. Rays southpaw Jake McGee was on the mound.

“The righty-lefty matchup doesn’t matter with Cabrera. There’s no pitcher you like there, because he doesn’t care who he is facing. He just hits the ball,” Maddon said. “I liked the lefty-lefty matchup with Prince.”

Fielder foiled the strategy with his single off McGee (0-1), and Cabrera lumbered around to score for a 3-2 lead.

Rick Porcello allowed two runs and seven hits in seven innings for the Tigers in a game that began amid snow flurries with the temperature in the 40s. Porcello struck out four and walked one.

“He commanded the fastball on both sides of the plate and when he does that, he pitches like he did today,” said Laird, Detroit’s catcher. “Running sinkers in on them and then sinkers away, they didn’t know what to look for. Throwing his offspeed pitches off that, I definitely think it’s a great building point for him.”

Tampa Bay’s Matt Moore allowed two runs and four hits in 6 2-3 innings. He walked five — one intentionally — and struck out four in his second career regular-season start. The 22-year-old also started a playoff game last year, not long after making his debut.

Tampa Bay went ahead 2-1 in the seventh on an RBI infield single by Desmond Jennings, but Jackson homered in the bottom half off Moore.

Detroit has won its first four games — three in its final at-bat. The Rays lost for the first time after a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees. It was their first regular-season loss in nine games. They won their last five of 2011 to snatch a surprising playoff berth.

Tampa Bay opened the scoring in the third when Evan Longoria drew a bases-loaded walk. Detroit tied it in the bottom half when Moore’s wild pitch enabled Jackson to score.

“I choked on a changeup and bounced it,” Moore said. “That was just an awful pitch.”

RED SOX 4, BLUE JAYS 2: Ryan Sweeney singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth inning and the Boston Red Sox rallied to beat the Blue Jays 4-2 on Monday night, spoiling Toronto’s home opener and avoiding the first back-to-back 0-4 starts in team history.

Dustin Pedroia homered and scored the tying run as the Red Sox handed new Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos his second blown save in three appearances.

Handed a 2-1 lead to start the ninth, Santos (0-1) surrendered a leadoff double to Pedroia, who advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez.

Kevin Youkilis struck out before David Ortiz and Cody Ross drew consecutive walks. After a visit to the mound by pitching coach Bruce Walton, Sweeney hit an RBI single through the right side.

Darnell McDonald, pinch-running for Ortiz, slid home safely when Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia couldn’t handle the throw from Jose Bautista, a miscue that also allowed both runners to advance. Ross scored soon after when Santos uncorked a wild pitch that bounced into Boston’s dugout along the first base line.

Making his first home appearance since being acquired in a December trade with the White Sox, Santos was booed off the mound by the crowd of 48,473 when manager John Farrell came out to replace him with Luis Perez, who ended the inning by getting Mike Aviles to ground into a fielder’s choice.

Scott Atchison (1-0) worked three shutout innings for his first win since July 23, 2010, and Alfredo Aceves closed it out with a perfect ninth for his first save, rebounding after blowing a save and failing to retire a batter in his two previous outings this season.

After making a diving catch to rob Jarrod Saltalamacchia of a hit in the top of the third, center fielder Colby Rasmus got Toronto’s offense started in the bottom half, hitting a one-out triple up the alley in right center. Yunel Escobar walked before Rasmus scored on Kelly Johnson’s fielder’s choice grounder to the mound, sliding in just ahead of Saltalamacchia’s swipe tag.

Bautista flied out before Edwin Encarnacion doubled Toronto’s lead with an RBI single to left.

Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez kept the Red Sox off the board until the sixth, when Pedroia hit a solo home run to left center, his first.

That was the only run allowed by Alvarez, who gave up four hits in six innings, walked one and struck out a pair.

Making his fourth career start, and his first since July 16, 2010, Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront allowed two runs and four hits in five innings. He walked three and struck out a career-high six.

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