Detroit's bullpen blew a four-run lead after Robertson departed in the eighth inning and Ryan Raburn scored the go-ahead run in the bottom half to help the Tigers beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 9-6 Tuesday night.
"It is literally a crying shame that Nate Robertson didn't win that game," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He was absolutely outstanding -- he pitched as well as you can pitch."
Robertson was charged with three runs and nine hits in a season-best 7 2/3 innings. The Tigers led 6-2 when he departed to a standing ovation.
Robertson was one of the first players to console Grilli, who pitched to four batters without getting an out.
"No one feels worse than Jason," he said. "He's pitched some great games for us, and he'll do it again. We won the game, and that's all that matters."
Raburn led off the bottom of the eighth with a double, and Dan Wheeler (0-1) hit Craig Monroe with the next pitch. Both runners advanced on Brandon Inge's sacrifice, and Curtis Granderson hit a grounder to second baseman Brendan Harris, who threw late to home.
"My job is to shut down that inning, and I just couldn't execute my pitches," Wheeler said. "The ball felt good coming out of my hand, but I couldn't make it go where I wanted."
"Nate deserved this game, but at least we won it as a team," Casey said. "We could have folded after that grand slam, but we came right back and got after them."
"We haven't been playing well, and at this level, that will get you beat," Leyland said. "I don't care who you are playing."
Carl Crawford had four hits and Dioner Navarro hit his fourth homer for Tampa Bay, which has lost eight straight road games and 19 of 21 away from home. Jason Hammel remained winless in 13 career starts, giving up five runs and 10 hits with a walk in four innings.
"I made good pitches that they hit, and I made bad pitches that they hit," Hammel said. "That's a good swinging ballclub."
The Tigers scored in four of the first five innings to build a 6-1 lead, but a combination of bad weather and their struggling bullpen hurt them late in the game.
Tampa Bay added a fluky run in the seventh. With one out, Granderson lost Gomes' routine fly ball against a swirling gray sky, and the ball fell behind him for a triple. Robertson got Josh Wilson to pop out, but Navarro lined an RBI single to make it 6-2.
"That was like a roller-coaster," Gomes said. "My homer took us up, and some bloop hits off Wheeler took us right back down."
After Wilson got the fourth straight hit off Grilli, Tim Byrdak (1-0) came into the game and retired Navarro to end the inning. As he left the mound, Grilli was loudly booed by the same fans that had wildly cheered Robertson minutes earlier.
Grilli declined comment after the game, but Leyland stood up for him.
"I'm sure some of those boos were for me," he said. "That's OK. That happens at this level."
- Raburn has 14 RBI in 17 games this season. "He's a hungry player, and hungry players are dangerous," Leyland said.
- Neither team took batting practice because of afternoon rains, but the skies cleared about an hour before gametime. Storm clouds blew back in the middle innings, but no precipitation fell.
- The win was Byrdak's second in 127 career outings.
- The Devil Rays outrighted reliever Casey Fossum to Triple-A Durham after the game.