|Detroit (73-61) «||0||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||3||4||8||0|
|Tampa Bay (72-62)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2||3||6||0|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Justin Verlander got his 16th win of the season -- barely.
Verlander tied New York Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia for the AL lead in victories, Adam Everett hit a tiebreaking RBI single during a three-run ninth and the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.
Verlander (16-7) allowed one run and four hits over eight innings. He has won three consecutive starts.
"I'm not worried about 16, I'm worried about one, and that's today," Verlander said. "And even if I didn't get the win today, if we came away with the 'W' I'd be more than happy."
The Tigers expanded their lead to six games over Minnesota, which lost 5-2 to Cleveland.
Detroit closer Fernando Rodney allowed two runs in the bottom half of the ninth before nailing down his 32nd save.
During the postgame celebration on the field, Rodney threw the game ball toward the stands and it ended up in the press box. No one was hit by the ball, which Rodney said he was throwing to the fans.
"Feeling the moment," Rodney said. "A little celebration."
Detroit manager Jim Leyland said he didn't see the throw, but planned to check into it. Rodney, after making 35 pitches, will not pitch on Saturday.
"I think he was a little more sluggish than normal," Leyland said. "I'm going to give him a day off for sure. He deserves it."
Tampa Bay rookie Jeff Niemann, who has a team-best 12 wins, gave up one run and six hits in 7 2/3 innings. The Rays, six games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race, have lost six of nine.
"Verlander and Niemann were the key," Leyland said. "They were both brilliant."
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon feels Niemann should be the AL Rookie of the Year.
"I don't know who is better right now," Maddon said. "He's been fantastic."
Pinch hitter Ryan Raburn opened the ninth by drawing a walk from J.P. Howell (7-5) and went to second one out later when pinch hitter Marcus Thames walked. Everett then gave the Tigers a 2-1 advantage when he lined a single to left on the first pitch.
"You want to quit and scream, but there's tomorrow, too," said Howell, who is 1-3 with a 6.42 ERA in his last 14 outings. "There's another opportunity tomorrow for you to improve."
Longoria put the Rays ahead 1-0 on an RBI double in the second.
Niemann retired 10 in a row before Miguel Cabrera tied it at 1 with a towering solo homer to left.
Tigers catcher Gerald Laird helped keep the speedy Rays in check, throwing out two runners attempting to steal second. Tampa Bay leads the majors with 169 stolen bases this season.
"He's got to be the best thrower in the league right now," Leyland said.
|Justin Verlander notches his 16th win to tie for the AL lead with CC Sabathia. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Curtis Granderson, CF||5||0||1||1||0||3||0||.256|
|Placido Polanco, 2B||4||0||1||1||0||0||0||.273|
|Clete Thomas, RF||4||0||0||0||1||3||2||.246|
|Miguel Cabrera, 1B||4||1||2||1||0||0||2||.339|
|Aubrey Huff, DH||3||0||2||0||0||0||0||.245|
|a- Magglio Ordonez, PH-DH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.279|
|Carlos Guillen, LF||2||0||1||0||1||0||0||.249|
|b- Ryan Raburn, PH-LF||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||.272|
|Brandon Inge, 3B||4||0||0||0||0||1||5||.232|
|Gerald Laird, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||2||.220|
|c- Marcus Thames, PH||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||.243|
|Wilkin Ramirez, PR||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|Alex Avila, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.308|
|Adam Everett, SS||4||1||1||1||0||0||2||.241|
|a-struck out for Huff in the 8th|
|b-walked for Guillen in the 9th|
|c-walked for Laird in the 9th|
|2B - Aubrey Huff 2 (28, Niemann, Niemann)|
|HR - Miguel Cabrera (28, Niemann)|
|SF - Placido Polanco (4)|
|RBI - Curtis Granderson (61), Placido Polanco (61), Miguel Cabrera (84), Adam Everett (39)|
|2-OUT RBI - Miguel Cabrera (26)|
|Team LOB - 8|
|Justin Verlander (W,16-7)||8||4||1||1||1||7||0||3.29|
|Fernando Rodney (S,32)||1||2||2||2||2||2||0||3.41|
|Pitches-Strikes - Justin Verlander 125-84, Fernando Rodney 35-17|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Justin Verlander 7-8, Fernando Rodney 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Justin Verlander 27, Fernando Rodney 7|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||2||1||0||0||2||2||0||.335|
|Carl Crawford, LF||3||1||0||0||1||0||1||.306|
|Ben Zobrist, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||2||2||.283|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||4||1||3||1||0||0||0||.228|
|Pat Burrell, DH||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.238|
|Evan Longoria, 3B||4||0||2||2||0||1||1||.277|
|Gabe Gross, RF||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.247|
|a- Willy Aybar, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||.252|
|Dioner Navarro, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.225|
|Fernando Perez, CF||3||0||1||0||0||1||0||.333|
|a-grounded out for Gross in the 9th|
|2B - Carlos Pena (25, Verlander), Evan Longoria 2 (40, Verlander, Rodney)|
|RBI - Carlos Pena (99), Evan Longoria 2 (96)|
|2-OUT RBI - Evan Longoria (33)|
|CS - Jason Bartlett (6, 2nd base by Verlander/Laird), Fernando Perez (1, 2nd base by Verlander/Laird)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|J.P. Howell (L,7-5)||0.2||1||3||3||2||2||0||2.83|
|IBB - Guillen by Jeff Niemann|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Niemann 115-76, J.P. Howell 21-10, Randy Choate 1-1, Russ Springer 7-5|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Niemann 5-12|
|Batters Faced - Jeff Niemann 31, J.P. Howell 5, Randy Choate 1, Russ Springer 2|
|Attendance - 18596|
|Game Time - 2:59|
|Temperature - 72|
|Umpires - Home - Mike Reilly, First Base - Chuck Meriwether, Second Base - Laz Diaz, Third Base - Eric Cooper|