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Live blog: Bullpen woes cost Tigers in 9th, 8-7

Connor Muldowney
The Detroit News

What just happened? That's exactly what the Tigers were wondering as the winning run crossed the plate for the Rays in the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, 8-7.

Francisco Rodriguez came in, looking for his sixth save of the season, but loaded the bases with no outs and a 7-6 lead. He recorded a crucial strikeout, keeping all runners put with one out. However, what looked like a routine double play ground ball to end the game ended up costing the Tigers.

Logan Morrison grounded to second base and Ian Kinsler set Jose Iglesias up for a potential game-ending double play, but he fell awkwardly during his toss to first, resulting in an errant throw into foul territory. The game-winning run scored for the Rays (8-8).

This was Rodriguez's second blown save of the year.

The middle innings were good to the Tigers. Chris Archer held the Tigers to just one run through four innings, but they knocked him out with three runs in the fifth. Archer allowed four earned runs while striking out nine batters in five innings.

Detroit then peppered Rays relief in the sixth for three more runs, including Nicholas Castellanos’ three-run triple, his second three-bagger of the game.

Austin Pruitt (3 1/3 innings) shut the door on the Tigers (8-6), though. He allowed just one hit and struck out five batters.

Jordan Zimmermann had his second straight tough outing, going six innings and allowing 10 hits and five earned runs. He did strike out four batters.

This was Detroit's first series loss of the season after winning four straight.

Daniel Norris will look to salvage a game for the Tigers Thursday at 1:10 p.m. The Rays will send out Erasmo Ramirez, also 1-0, for the series finale.

Bottom 9th: Rays 8, Tigers 7

Tampa Bay Rays' Steven Souza Jr. high fives first base coach Rocco Baldelli (15) after his RBI single off Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Alex Wilson during the seventh inning.

Francisco Rodriguez entered the game for the Tigers, looking for the close.

The Tigers' 35-year-old closer has struggled this season and that continued with a leadoff walk of Kevin Kiermaier. Evan Longoria then launched a double to the right field fence, but Kiermaier stayed at third. Peter Bourjos replaced Longoria at second as a pinch runner.

Brad Miller was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. Steven Souza Jr. struck out looking, on a questionable call, for the first out. Rays' manager Kevin Cash came out to argue and was immediately tossed.

Logan Morrison hit a ground ball to second that looked to end the game with a double play, but he fell awkwardly while trying to throw to first. He got only one out and two runs scored and the Rays got the win.

Top 9th: Tigers 7, Rays 6

Austin Pruitt returned for yet another inning of relief for the Rays.

Miguel Cabrera notched his third hit of the game, a single into left field with one out. Victor Martinez grounded a ball into the shift at second base, resulting in an inning-ending double play.

Nicholas Castellanos struck out looking, followed by a glare at the home plate umpire, for the first out.

Bottom 8th: Tigers 7, Rays 6

Justin Wilson started the eighth, looking for better luck than Alex Wilson had in the seventh.

Rickie Weeks Jr. replaced Shane Peterson as a pinch hitter to give the Rays a right-hander against the lefty Wilson. However, he struck out swinging for the first out. Tim Beckham battled, but also struck out for the second out. Corey Dickerson swung right through a fastball for strike three to end the home half of the eighth.

Top 8th: Tigers 7, Rays 6

The Tigers needed to add some insurance runs against the Rays' bullpen to combat their own relief issues.

Rays reliever Austin Pruitt continued to deal, though. JaCoby Jones struck out for the first out, remaining hitless. Jose Iglesias grounded a 1-2 pitch to third base for out No. 2. Ian Kinsler followed that up by popping out to shallow right for a 1-2-3 eighth inning.

Bottom 7th: Tigers 7, Rays 6

Alex Wilson came in to relieve Jordan Zimmermann, but the bullpen woes continued.

Kevin Kiermaier knocked a leadoff single into center, getting the threat started. The next batter, Evan Longoria, made solid contact, but flew out directly to JaCoby Jones in center. Brad Miller slapped a seeing-eye single pst a diving Nicholas Castellanos into left field, putting runners on first and second with one out.

Steven Souza Jr. drilled the first pitch he saw into center field for a single, driving in Kiermaier and moving Miller to second base. Logan Morrison hit a high fly ball to center field for the second out, holding the runners at first and second.

Derek Norris ended the inning with a soft grounder to shortstop Jose Iglesias who made a strong throw to first for the out.

Top 7th: Tigers 7, Rays 5

Austin Pruitt started the seventh for the Rays after recording the final out of the sixth.

Tyler Collins remained hitless, flying out to left field for the first out. James McCann then struck out, dropping to 0-for-3 on the game. Andrew Romine was a quick out as well, ending the top of the inning with a swinging strikeout.

Bottom 6th: Tigers 7, Rays 5

Jordan Zimmermann went back to work in the sixth, looking to record the win despite allowing five runs through five innings.

Shane Peterson got the inning started by popping out to Jose Iglesias in foul territory. Tim Beckham mirrored that first at-bat, popping out to Miguel Cabrera in foul ground. Corey Dickerson ended the inning with a fly out to center.

Top 6th: Tigers 7, Rays 5

Danny Farquhar came in to relieve Rays' starter Chris Archer in the sixth.

James McCann was walked to begin the inning and Andrew Romine was hit by a pitch on the shin while trying to bunt. JaCoby Jones also attempted a bunt to third, but it was poorly executed and the Rays turned a double play. The play at first was close and the umpired reviewed it, but upheld the out call. McCann moved to third.

The Rays changed pitchers again, bringing in Jumbo Diaz.

The first batter Diaz faced, Jose Iglesias, drew a walk. Command was an issue as he also walked Ian Kinsler to load the bases with two outs. Nicholas Castellanos drilled a shot past a diving Kevin Kiermaier in center field for his second triple of the night, clearing the bases.

Diaz intentionally walked Miguel Cabrera before getting replaced by Austin Pruitt. He finally got the Rays out of the inning by striking out Victor Martinez.

Bottom 5th: Rays 5, Tigers 4

Jordan Zimmermann headed back out with a pitch count approaching 80 in the fifth.

He got Steven Souza Jr. to pop out to shallow right field. Logan Morrison followed that up with a strikeout and Derek Norris ended the inning with a high fly ball into left which nearly caused a collision between Andrew Romine and JaCoby Jones.

Top 5th: Rays 5, Tigers 4

After the Rays tacked on three runs in the fourth, the Tigers needed to get to Chris Archer. They did just that.

Jose Iglesias kicked things off with a sharp grounder up the middle for a single. Ian Kinsler then worked a walk, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Nicholas Castellanos then struck out, but Miguel Cabrera delivered a double into the right center gap to score Iglesias for his second RBI of the game.

With runners on second and third and one out, Victor Martinez slapped a ball to left field and Shane Peterson appeared to make a diving catch, but it trickled out of his glove and both Kinsler and Cabrera scored.

Tyler Collins grounded into a double play to end the top of the fifth.

Bottom 4th: Rays 5, Tigers 1

The Rays peppered Jordan Zimmermann in the fourth.

Corey Dickerson extended the Rays' lead back to two with a two-out single into right field. Kevin Kiermaier moved him to third with a double to the right field corner. Evan Longoria scored both runs with a single to left.

Derek Norris hit a fly ball to right field, but this time Tyler Collins had no problem catching it for the first out. Shane Peterson also hit the ball into right, but over Collins' head for a one-out double that bounced off the wall. He scored on the Dickerson single for the first run of the inning.

Tim Beckham hit a liner to right field for the second out. Brad Miller grounded out to second for the third out.

Top 4th: Rays 2, Tigers 1

Chris Archer picked up right where he left off in the third.

He made quick work of Tyler Collins as the Tigers' right fielder struck out for the second time. James McCann then flew out to deep right center for the second out.

Andrew Romine slapped a double down the left field line and into foul territory, creating a two-out threat. He would go no further as JaCoby Jones also struck out for the second time, ending the fourth.

Bottom 3rd: Rays 2, Tigers 1

The Rays' top of the lineup made its way back around to face Jordan Zimmermann after doing damage in the first.

Kevin Kiermaier stepped to the plate, searching for his second hit in as many at-bats, but he flew out to center field. Evan Longoria got on base for the second time, walking on a 3-2 pitch.

Brad Miller hit was seemed like a harmless popup to shallow right field, but it dropped between Ian Kinsler, JaCoby Jones and Tyler Collins. Steven Souza Jr. struck out swinging for the second out and men on first and second. Logan Morrison popped out to Nicholas Castellanos to end the home half of the third.

Top 3rd: Rays 2, Tigers 1

The Tigers finally got to Chris Archer in the second.

Ian Kinsler finally snapped a three-game hitless streak by singling to left field with one out. He successfully stole second base with two outs and Miguel Cabrera at the plate. He drove Kinsler in with a line drive single into right center, getting the Tigers on the board.

Jose Iglesias began the inning by becoming Archer's fourth straight strikeout victim. He then made it five straight strikeouts, getting Nicholas Castellanos looking for the second out. Victor Martinez ground out softly to first, ending the third.

Bottom 2nd: Rays 2, Tigers 0

Jordan Zimmermann needed a quick second inning.

Derek Norris struck out looking for the first out. Shane Peterson then swung at the next pitch, singling to center field. Tim Beckham struck out and then Corey Dickerson flew out to left to end the inning, stranding Peterson at first base.

Top 2nd: Rays 2, Tigers 0

The Tigers' bats remained cold in the second.

James McCann got on base with a walk on a 3-2 count with one out, working Chris Archer's pitch count to 35 early on. He would move no further than first base, though.

Tyler Collins, Andrew Romine nor JaCoby Jones could make contact against Archer, each striking out.

Bottom 1st: Rays 2, Tigers 0

Jordan Zimmermann aimed to rebound from his poor start last week against the Twins.

However, the bottom of the inning didn't get off to the best start. Corey Dickerson hit a lazy fly ball to right center, but JaCoby Jones and Tyler Collins miscommunicated and it dropped in for a double. Kevin Kiermaier followed that up with a bunt single down the third base line, putting runners at the corners.

Evan Longoria then hit an infield single to score Dickerson for the first run of the game. The first out came on a fielder's choice thanks to a soft ground ball to second base. Ian Kinsler threw to second for the first out, but there was no play at first. Runners were at the corners with one out.

Steven Souza Jr. piled on with a base hit to center field, scoring Kiermaier and moving Miller to second. Logan Morrison grounded into a double play to end the lengthy first inning.

Top 1st: Tigers 0, Rays 0

The Tigers looked to get on the board early against red-hot Chris Archer.

Nicholas Castellanos got things cooking with a one-out triple that nearly cleared the right field wall. Miguel Cabrera couldn't drive him in, striking out after working the count full for the second out. Victor Martinez flew out to left field on a full count to end the inning.

Ian Kinsler's cold streak continued, though. He flew out to right field for the first out. He has just one hit in his past 23 at-bats.

The Tigers own an impressive streak of 13 straight games with a home run to open the season. But, they'll likely trade it to start a new winning streak.

The Tigers take on the Rays on Wednesday night, looking to bounce back after falling in the series opener on Tuesday, 5-1. First pitch at Tropicana Field is at 7:10 p.m.

The Tigers send right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (1-1, 5.06 ERA) to the mound, while the Rays counter with their ace, Chris Archer (2-0, 2.21 ERA).

Archer will try to halt the Tigers home run streak, which is one shy of the Indians' record of 14, set in 2002. Miguel Cabrera helped keep the streak alive Tuesday night with a first-inning blast, but it was just one of four hits the Tigers managed.

The Tigers will be without one of their heaviest hitters, Justin Upton, who is out with a bruised forearm.

TIGERS AT RAYS

Time: 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida.

TV/radio: FSD/97.1

TIGERS LINEUP

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B

2. Nick Castellanos, 3B

3. Miguel Cabrera, 1B

4. Victor Martinez, DH

5. Tyler Collins, RF

6. James McCann, C

7. Andrew Romine, LF

8. JaCoby Jones, CF

9. Jose Iglesias, SS

SP: Jordan Zimmermann, RHP

RAYS LINEUP

1. Corey Dickerson, DH

2. Kevin Kiermaier, CF

3. Evan Longoria, 3B

4. Brad Miller, 2B

5. Steven Souza Jr., RF

6. Logan Morrison, 1B

7. Derek Norris, C

8. Shane Peterson, LF

9. Tim Beckham, SS

SP: Chris Archer, RHP