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Tampa Bay at Detroit

Scoreboard
Tampa Bay (70-59)000300000370
Detroit (69-60) «00100003x460

Polanco three-run homer lifts Tigers over visiting Rays

CBSSports.com wire reports
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DETROIT -- Justin Verlander is starting to sense the Detroit Tigers have the intangibles that helped them reach the World Series a few years ago.

Placido Polanco hit a three-run homer with two outs in the eighth inning, lifting Detroit to a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Third baseman Brandon Inge sealed the victory, leaping to snag B.J. Upton's high hopper down the line with a runner on first and throwing across the diamond for the final out.

The AL Central-leading Tigers improved to 42-21 at home and have a relatively comfortable cushion over the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox.

"This is a different ballclub than 2006, but there's a lot of good karma and good guys just like we had," said Verlander (15-7), a rookie for the AL champions when they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. "It's a very similar-type feeling and obviously, that was a fun year."

The Rays, meanwhile, are not enjoying their season after winning the AL pennant.

"We let it get away," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've done that too many times, and that's why our record is where it is."

Tampa Bay fell to 28-38 on the road and 11 games over .500 overall, heading home for a possibly pivotal series against the wild card-leading Boston Red Sox.

"We can't afford to lose games like the one we lost today," Rays outfielder Carl Crawford said. "We're getting close to the line where we are going to be eliminated."

Verlander surrendered three runs, six hits and four walks over eight innings and struck out four, matching a season low. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 29th save in 30 chances.

Grant Balfour (5-3) spoiled Jeff Niemann's strong start.

Niemann was replaced in the eighth with a 3-1 lead after Clete Thomas hit a leadoff double. After Balfour retired the first two batters he faced, Curtis Granderson walked and Polanco hit his eighth home run of the season, snapping an 0-for-13 slump.

"I had challenged the first two guys and I felt great, but when I pitched around Granderson, it put me on the defensive," Balfour said. "Polanco squared up a fastball, which is going to happen, but it happened at the worst possible time."

Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer in the fourth -- his 25th -- and Akinori Iwamura's first home run later in the inning gave the Rays a 3-1 lead.

Niemann retired the Tigers in order in the first two innings and four of the first six.

"He should have three more wins than we've given him," Maddon lamented.

Detroit catcher Gerald Laird threw out Upton in the seventh and Jason Bartlett in the first, extending his major league-leading total to 30 this season.

"That gets lost in this whole game," Leyland said. "That was huge for us. Laird was a big part of this win."

Notes

  • Verlander has lasted at least eight innings eight times this season, setting a career high.
  • Longoria ended an 18-game stretch without a homer.
  • Sunday marked the 104th anniversary of Ty Cobb's first game in the majors. In his first at-bat on Aug. 30, 1905, Cobb doubled off New York Highlanders' ace Jack Chesbro at Detroit's Bennett Park.
  • Thomas matched a season high with three hits.
  • Crawford stole his 55th base, moving into a tie with Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury for the most in the majors, and is five away from setting a career high.
  • The Tigers drew 36,067 fans, putting them over the 2 million mark.
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Placido Polanco turns on a Grant Balfour pitch for a three-run shot and a 4-3 lead in the eighth.  (US Presswire)
Placido Polanco turns on a Grant Balfour pitch for a three-run shot and a 4-3 lead in the eighth. (US Presswire)

Players of the Game
Detroit

P. Polanco
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 3
Tampa Bay

E. Longoria
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 2
 
Tampa Bay Rays
Jason Bartlett, SS1000201 .337
Carl Crawford, LF4010002 .312
Ben Zobrist, RF4010024 .288
Carlos Pena, 1B4000001 .218
Pat Burrell, DH3100112 .239
Evan Longoria, 3B4112000 .267
Gregg Zaun, C4010010 .258
    Gabe Kapler, PR0000000 .247
Akinori Iwamura, 2B4111001 .311
B.J. Upton, CF4020001 .241
Totals3237334  
Batting
2B - B.J. Upton (29, Verlander)
HR - Evan Longoria (25, Verlander), Akinori Iwamura (1, Verlander)
RBI - Evan Longoria 2 (90), Akinori Iwamura (17)
2-OUT RBI - Akinori Iwamura (8)
SB - Carl Crawford (55, 2nd base off Verlander/Laird)
CS - Jason Bartlett (5, 2nd base by Verlander/Laird), B.J. Upton (13, 2nd base by Verlander/Laird)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
Outfield Assists - Carl Crawford 1
Tampa Bay Rays
Jeff Niemann 7522030 3.80
Grant Balfour (BS,3; L,5-3) 1122111 4.45
Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Niemann 96-64, Grant Balfour 17-10
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Niemann 7-10
Batters Faced - Jeff Niemann 25, Grant Balfour 5
Detroit Tigers
Curtis Granderson, CF3111100 .258
Placido Polanco, 2B4113000 .268
Carlos Guillen, LF4000010 .235
    Ryan Raburn, LF0000000 .273
Miguel Cabrera, 1B3000010 .335
Aubrey Huff, DH3010000 .243
Brandon Inge, 3B3000001 .240
Clete Thomas, RF3230000 .250
Gerald Laird, C2000001 .225
   a- Magglio Ordonez, PH1000001 .275
    Alex Avila, C0000000 .303
Ramon Santiago, SS3000022 .254
Totals2946414  
a-flied out for Laird in the 8th
Batting
2B - Aubrey Huff (25, Niemann), Clete Thomas (10, Niemann)
HR - Placido Polanco (8, Balfour)
RBI - Curtis Granderson (59), Placido Polanco 3 (58)
2-OUT RBI - Curtis Granderson (26), Placido Polanco 3 (28)
Team LOB - 2
Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander (W,15-7) 8633342 3.38
Fernando Rodney (S,29) 1100000 3.28
HBP - Bartlett (by Justin Verlander)
Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 124-86, Fernando Rodney 13-7
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 5-13, Fernando Rodney 2-1
Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 32, Fernando Rodney 4
Game Information
Attendance - 36067
Game Time - 2:30
Temperature - 61
Umpires - Home - Mike Everitt, First Base - Brian Gorman, Second Base - Gerry Davis, Third Base - C.B. Bucknor