ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Except for Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers are not delivering clutch hits.
The lack of timely offense cost the Tigers again Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cabrera hit a 424-foot home run in the fourth inning, but the Tigers failed to score in the seventh after loading the bases with nobody out.
``Runs have been a problem for us and they were again today. That pretty much sums it up,' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Detroit went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The Tigers have lost five of six, with a .185 RISP average over that span (10 for 54).
The Tigers (43-37), who moved into the AL Central lead on May 24, saw their division lead cut to one percentage point over second-place Cleveland (44-38).
Jeremy Hellickson earned his fifth June win for the Rays in a game that included an early warning by the umpires. Hellickson (7-3) allowed one run over six-plus innings. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
Both benches were warned by plate umpire Vic Carapazza after Detroit's Rick Porcello (4-6) hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch in the first. Nothing further developed.
``I was surprised,' Porcello said. ``I tried to throw a fastball in, and it just got away from me.'
A day earlier, Cabrera had yelled at the Tampa Bay dugout after striking out in the 10th inning. Rodney had thrown a high-and-tight fastball before fanning the Tigers star, and Leyland said after the Saturday game that ``somebody has to pay the price for that.'
Zobrist walked to first base after being struck with two outs and no one on base Sunday.
``I think it was pretty clear in everybody's mind that it was intentional after the things that were said last night,' Zobrist said.
Not quite everybody.
``That's part of baseball. Guys get hit in baseball games,' Leyland said. ``That's nothing new. We got three guys hit last week, we hit a couple guys last week. That's all part of the game. Nobody's trying to hit anybody.'
Cabrera, booed before each of his at_bats, tied it with his 25th homer, extending his hitting streak to 15 games.
With the Rays leading 3-1, Andy Dirks led off the Tigers seventh with a double off Hellickson. Omar Infante followed with a single and Ramon Santiago walked, loading the bases with none out.
Left-hander Jake McGee came in to get three straight outs.
``A lot of times when you say you're struggling with something, that's kind of obvious, but the solution is not so obvious,' Leyland said. ``You can get a little goofy and start playing games with the lineup, but I don't really believe in that. I don't think there's any gimmicks or tricks, I think the lineup is pretty much the way it should be.'
NOTES: Leyland, the AL All-Star manager, supports the rule that all teams have a player in the game. ``You can get a lot of arguments because it's probably not a true All-Star team when you have to have somebody from every team, but I love the fact that every uniform is represented at the All-Star game,' Leyland said. ``I think that's really a nice touch.' ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria (plantar fasciitis) missed his second consecutive game. ... Denny McLain, the majors' last 30-gane winner, was at the ballpark. He did it in 1968 with the Tigers. ... Cabrera went 1 for 4 and his major league-leading average dropped two points to .373.
The Associated Press News Service
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