Final Score: Detroit 7, Tampa Bay 2
Detroit, MI (Sports Network) - Brennan Boesch celebrated his 27th birthday by going 2-for-4 with four RBI, as the Detroit Tigers took down the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-2, in the final test of a three-game series.
Andy Dirks and Alex Avila each had two hits, two runs scored and an RBI for the Tigers, who are off to a 5-1 start.
"You've got to be very satisfied with five out of six on the first homestand," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Drew Smyly gave up one run on four hits over four-plus innings in his MLB debut. He struck out four and walked three. Collin Balester (1-0) allowed one run in two-plus innings of relief to pick up the win.
Carlos Pena hit a solo home run for the Rays, who lost two of three in the series. Evan Longoria also knocked in a run.
Jeff Niemann (0-1) allowed three runs on four hits in five full frames to suffer the loss. He struck out six and walked two.
Pena's towering blast to right just cleared the wall in the third, giving Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead.
The Tigers finally got to Niemann in the fifth. Avila led off with a walk, stole second and scored on Dirks' triple to right. Two batters later, Austin Jackson walked before stealing second. Boesch followed with a two-run single to left, giving Detroit a 3-1 lead.
"I felt pretty good today," Niemann said. "It kind of got away from us in the fifth."
The Rays got a run back in the seventh. Brayan Villarreal came in from the bullpen with men on first and second and no outs. Longoria welcomed him to the mound with an RBI single to left. But Jeff Keppinger lined into a double play and Phil Coke got Ben Zobrist swinging to keep it 3-2.
Boesch came through with a key two-run single in the bottom half of the inning. Jhonny Peralta and Dirks singled off Wade Davis. Following two outs, Jake McGee took over on the mound. Boesch stepped to the plate and knocked in both runs on a hit up the middle to make it 5-2.
The Tigers tacked on two more runs in the eighth. Joel Peralta gave up a leadoff single to Prince Fielder, who crossed the plate on Avila's triple to right-center field. Avila then scored on a wild pitch to give Detroit a five- run cushion.
Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth to secure the victory.
The Tigers have won nine of their last 11 matchups with the Rays...Detroit purchased the contract of Smyly from Triple-A Toledo and designated outfielder Clete Thomas for assignment...Niemann was 11-7 last season with 4.06 ERA and went through a stretch of 10 starts without a loss...Tampa Bay went 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11.
04/12 18:39:34 ET
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