Dodgers 3, Tigers 2
The 29-year-old right-hander helped his case with a solid performance Saturday, even though the Los Angeles Dodgers rallied for three runs with two outs in the ninth inning and beat Detroit 3-2.
Grilli struck out four in four scoreless innings in his first spring start to remain in competition for the fifth spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation. He has thrown eight scoreless innings in his past two outings combined.
“I want this spot, there’s no doubt,” Grilli said. “I’m trying to stick the nail in the coffin right now.”
Fellow candidate Justin Verlander gave up three hits and struck out three in four scoreless innings against a lineup that featured few Dodgers regulars.
“There’s some competition going on,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “That’s good.”
Detroit was one out from a 2-0 victory when Cody Ross hit a line drive that bounced off the leg of Wilfredo Ledezma, the third Tigers pitcher. Third baseman Mike Hessman quickly fielded the ball, but his throwing error kept the Dodgers in the game. Russell Martin capped the rally with a two-run single.
Left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo struck out four in two perfect innings of relief to pick up the win for the Dodgers. Kuo, who has undergone two “Tommy John” surgeries, has allowed only one hit in 6 1-3 scoreless innings this spring.
“I’ll tell you what,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said, “the kid has been outstanding the last couple times out there. He was in complete command when he went into the game. He doesn’t back down from any hitters and his stuff is outstanding. What more can you say?”
C Pat Borders started for the Dodgers. The 42-year-old went 0-for-3 with one strikeout. … Tigers designated hitter Craig Monroe hit a full-count solo home run in his first at-bat of the spring in the third inning. He missed the previous two weeks because of strains in his oblique and quadriceps. … Catcher Ivan Rodriguez was in a Tigers uniform for the first time since March 2, going 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. He played for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.