ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays wasted a strong start by Jeremy Hellickson.
Doug Fister allowed five hits over seven scoreless innings, Austin Jackson homered and the AL Central-leading Detroit Tigers beat the Rays 2-0 Thursday.
``That's the game we've played way too often this year,' Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. ``We got great pitching from Jeremy, played really good baseball, but just not enough hitting.'
Hellickson (11-9) gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. He had seven strikeouts and one walk.
Tampa Bay starting pitchers have gone seven or more innings in 10 consecutive games, but the Rays are just 6-4 over the stretch. Three of the four losses came in the series with the Tigers.
``We, kind of, countered their pitching this series,' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``We got just enough to win three games, which was huge. This could have been an 0-4 trip, that's how good that pitching is. To come out of here with three wins, very pleased.'
Hellickson became the first Rays' pitcher to strikeout four batters in the same inning, accomplishing the feat during the third. After Jackson reached base to start the inning on a third-strike wild pitch, Hellickson then struck out Ramon Santiago, Delmon Young and Victor Martinez.
``It was pretty cool,' Hellickson said. ``I would have liked to have done it in a win.'
Fister (6-13) struck out five. The right-hander, acquired in a six-player trade with Seattle on July 30, is 3-1 in five starts with the Tigers.
Jackson hit a first-inning leadoff homer and made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
After Joaquin Benoit gave up one hit during the eighth, Jose Valverde pitched the ninth to complete a seven-hitter and pick up his 38th save in as many chances this season.
Casey Kotchman drew a one-out walk in the ninth from Valverde and moved to third on Matt Joyce's single. The game ended when Sam Fuld lined out to right on a hit-and-run that resulted in Joyce getting doubled off at first.
``Sam did the right thing, Matt did the right thing,' Maddon said. ``It just did not work.'
Fister retired his first 13 batters before Kotchman reached on a one-out infield single in the fifth. Third baseman Wilson Betemit was unable to make a backhanded grab on Kotchman's opposite-field liner.
Kotchman advanced to second when Fuld hit a two-out single, but Fister worked out of the jam by striking out Sean Rodriguez.
Kotchman singled in the seventh and went to third when Fuld doubled with two outs. Fister then retired the last batter he faced, pinch-hitter John Jaso, on a fly ball to left.
``It's a tough game,' Joyce said. ``The offense has really struggled. We have to figure it out. Obviously, it's late in the year and it's coming to that point where it's crunch time.'
Martinez doubled during the sixth and later was thrown out from right field by Joyce attempting to score on Betemit's single.
Notes: Tampa Bay CF B.J. Upton (right shoulder strain) could return to the starting lineup on Friday. ... Tampa Bay went 3 for 29 with runners in scoring position during the series. ... Joyce has eight assists this season. ... Hellickson is 3-9 in 14 starts when allowing a homer. He is 8-0 in nine outings when not giving one up. ... Rays RHP James Shields (11-10) will pitch against RHP Henderson Alvarez (0-1) in the opener of a four-game series Friday night at Toronto.
The Associated Press News Service
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