ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Elijah Dukes was surprised the Detroit Tigers gave him a chance to beat them.
Tampa Bay's troubled rookie outfielder singled with the bases loaded in the ninth inning to drive in two runs and the Devil Rays rallied for a 6-5 victory over the defending American League champions on Monday night.
The Devil Rays came from three runs down against the Tigers' struggling bullpen, scoring once in the seventh and once in the eighth before loading the bases in the ninth on two singles and an intentional walk.
Dukes, who was held out of two games last week following a published report that he made death threats against his estranged wife and kids, hit a high bouncer to left field off Todd Jones (1-2) to lift the Devil Rays into a fourth-place tie with the New York Yankees in the AL East.
"I was going up and trying to put the ball into play and running hard," said Dukes, who did not accept questions about his off-the-field problems. "It was all about the win. Winning is great."
Detroit used four relievers to get through the seventh and eighth, with both runs yielded in those innings charged to Zach Miner, although the Tigers helped Tampa Bay's cause with some sloppy play.
Center fielder Curtis Granderson played what should have been a single for Akinori Iwamura into a triple in the seventh, then catcher Mike Rabelo's throwing error set up the run that trimmed the Devil Rays' deficit to 5-4 in the eighth.
In the ninth, Jones allowed singles by Delmon Young and Iwamura before pinch-hitter Josh Wilson laid down a sacrifice and pinch-hitter Greg Norton was walked intentionally to load the bases for Dukes.
"I didn't think they would walk Norton. I thought I was a threat," Dukes said. "Guess I'm not. It really surprised me."
Detroit, which led 5-2 when starter Chad Durbin departed, has lost four straight.
Jones, who recently made comments saying the bullpen has to be accountable and "do our jobs," didn't make excuses.
"Everybody can say whatever they want. I was out there prepared, ready to go. When you don't hit your spots, you're going to get crushed," Jones said.
"We just didn't do enough to win the game. Period," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said, adding that with the exception of Jones, the bullpen performed well. "We did too many things to lose the game, and that's what happens when you do that."
Gary Sheffield hit his 465th career homer to help build the lead for Durbin, who allowed two runs and three hits in six innings.
The Devil Rays got RBI grounders from Brendan Harris in the seventh and Ty Wigginton in the eighth.
Gary Glover (2-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.
Sheffield's 10th homer of the season, a solo shot leading off the fifth inning against Edwin Jackson, snapped a 2-2 tie and pulled the Tigers slugger even with Hall of Famer Dave Winfield for 29th on the career list.
Craig Monroe also homered, leading off the seventh against Chad Orvella, who replaced Jackson after the Devil Rays starter allowed three runs and eight hits and tied a career high with nine strikeouts in six innings.
Magglio Ordonez went 2-for-5 to extend his hitting streak to 11 games for Detroit, including an RBI single off Orvella that made it 5-2 in the seventh.
A couple of bad breaks contributed to two runs Jackson allowed after the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs in the second on singles by Carlos Guillen, Sean Casey and Rabelo.
First, Omar Infante hit a foul ball that drifted up the left-field line toward the stands and was snared by a fan just before it was about to drop into the glove of third baseman Iwamura.
Infante singled on the next pitch, driving in Guillen. A second run scored when left fielder Carl Crawford's throw to the plate sailed over catcher Shawn Riggans for an error and Jackson, who backing up on the play, failed to pick up the flight of the ball and was struck in the side of the face.
The Tampa Bay starter not only remained in the game, but struck out the next three batters to keep the Tigers from building on the 2-0 lead. The Devil Rays tied it in the fourth on Young's sacrifice fly and Rabelo's passed ball, which allowed Carlos Pena to score from third base.
Iwamura was activated from 15-day disabled list after missing 30 games with a strained muscle in his right side. To make room, the Devil Rays optioned OF/DH Jonny Gomes to Triple-A Durham. ... Tigers 2B Placido Polanco sat out for the second straight game with strained oblique muscle. He could return to the lineup on Tuesday. ... Tigers C Ivan Rodriguez, who has a .364 career batting average against Tampa Bay, had the night off. ... On his home run, Sheffield tied Sam Crawford for 44th on the career RBI list with 1,525.