ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays' long-shot playoff hopes took another hit.
Brad Penny pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Alex Avila had an RBI single and the Detroit Tigers beat the Rays 2-1 on Tuesday night.
``Overall, this is the kind of game when if you're going to the playoffs, you win, and when you're not, you don't,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``We've got to start winning these games to go the playoffs. You have to win 2-1, 1-0, 3-2 games to win championships.'
The Rays trail the New York Yankees - who lead the AL East by percentage points over Boston - and the wild card-leading Red Sox both by 8 1-2 games.
David Price (11-11) allowed two runs and six hits in eight innings. The Tampa Bay left-hander was coming off consecutive road wins against the New York Yankees and Boston in which the AL All-Star was touched for one run and nine hits in a combined 16 innings.
``They've got a good team,' Price said of the AL Central-leading Tigers. ``They're in the playoff hunt right now so they're feeling good about themselves.'
Penny (9-9) gave up one run and eight hits over 6 1-3 innings. He had gone 1-3 with a 6.99 ERA in his previous five starts.
Phil Coke allowed two doubles, two intentional walks and struck out five over the final two innings for his first save. Tigers manager Jim Leyland stuck to his plan of giving eighth-inning setup man Joaquin Benoit and closer Jose Valverde the night off.
``We saw 170 pitches and score one run,' Maddon said. ``That just doesn't add up. Coke throws 51 pitches in two innings and you get no runs.'
After Johnny Damon hit two-out double and Evan Longoria was intentionally walked in the ninth, both advanced one base on Coke's wild pitch. Ben Zobrist then hit three foul balls on 3-2 pitches before grounding out to end the game.
``That was awesome,' Coke said. ``I'm just glad I got him out. That was a battle, and it was fun.'
The game started after a 20-minute delay because of a weather-related problem with the lights at Tropicana Field. The Rays say thunderstorms in the area affected a power line running into the domed stadium, which caused the problem.
Detroit scored twice in the seventh, ending Price's scoreless streak at 18 consecutive innings, and took a 2-1 lead on Avila's RBI single and a sacrifice fly by Jhonny Peralta.
Zobrist put the Rays ahead 1-0 on a third-inning RBI double. He has 42 doubles this season.
Penny gave up hits in five of his first six innings, but was able to limit the damage. The right-hander left with one out in the seventh after walking pinch hitter John Jaso.
Daniel Schlereth, who replaced Penny, got one out before giving up a single to Desmond Jennings and walking Damon to load the bases. Ryan Perry worked out of the jam by getting a fly ball to center from Longoria.
Longoria is 0 for 7 with the bases loaded this season.
The Rays went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base.
Notes: Damon tied Mark Grace for 45th place on the all-time list with 511 doubles. ... Tampa Bay CF B.J. Upton, who sprained his right shoulder Monday, struck out as a pinch hitter in the seventh. ... Detroit RHP Max Scherzer (13-7) will face Rays RHP Wade Davis (8-7) in the third game of the four-game set Wednesday night. ... Rays RHP Alex Cobb, who underwent surgery last Thursday to remove a blockage in the area of his first right rib, was back at the ballpark. The rookie is thinking about keeping the pinkie size rib that was removed during the procedure in his locker. ``I think it's a good thought and it's a reminder,' Maddon said. ``But I do not need to see it.'
The Associated Press News Service
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