ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—B.J. Upton impressed his manager and may have won over the fans.
The rookie third baseman had an RBI single in a two-run seventh inning and reliever Seth McClung won for first time since May as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 on Thursday night.
Upton, playing his third game since being called up from Triple-A Durham, singled to center to tie the game at 1 off reliever Joel Zumaya. The go-ahead run scored when he was caught in a rundown after rounding first base.
“I mean, really, Zumaya is throwing about 98 (mph) and B.J. got that pitch easily and hit it right back where it came from,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “That is a nice sign. That’s enjoyable. That’s special.”
A majority of the 13,808 in attendance Tuesday night booed Upton before he singled in his first at-bat. Upton, and minor league outfielders Delmon Young and Elijah Dukes were quoted in a published report last week in which they complained about the conditions at Durham and wondered why they hadn’t been called up to the major league club.
There was nothing but cheers for him Thursday.
“I just got a good pitch to hit,” said Upton, who is 3-for-11 since his return. “I put a good swing on it. It feels good.”
McClung (3-10), recalled from Durham before the game, threw 1 1-3 scoreless innings. He had been sent to the minors on June 20 to be converted from a starter to a reliever.
“Got the wraps off Seth and that was really interesting,” Maddon said. “He came out and had a great look. He did a great job.”
Brian Meadows pitched the ninth for his seventh save as the Devil Rays split a four-game series with the AL Central-leading Tigers and improved to 6-14 since the All-Star break.
Monroe hit his 17th homer for the Tigers, who went 6-4 on their road trip.
Jonny Gomes was hitless in 26 at-bats against Detroit this season before starting the seventh with a double off Nate Robertson (10-7). Josh Paul, who had seven hits in his last 46 at-bats, then walked for the second time in the game.
Pinch-hitter Tomas Perez moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Zumaya replaced Robertson and gave up Upton’s single that scored Gomes. When Upton got caught in the rundown between first and second, Paul broke for home and easily beat the throw to the plate.
“I had to take a chance,” Paul said. “They’ve got a great pitching staff. It was a gamble I took and it worked out.”
The Devil Rays loaded the bases on a single and two walks with two outs in the fourth, but failed to score when Robertson struck out Russell Branyan swinging on a 3-2 pitch.
Three pitches into fifth, Monroe extended his hitting streak to 10 games with an opposite-field leadoff homer to right that gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead. He had three homers and six RBIs in the four-game series with Tampa Bay.
Devil Rays starter Jae Seo gave up one run and seven hits in 6 2-3 innings. He left because of tightness in his left groin.
Seo said the groin felt “just a little bit sore,” but he hopes to make his next scheduled start.
Robertson allowed two runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings. He was asked about his reaction to fans who will question the Tigers for not winning the series at Tampa Bay.
“I’ll ask them if they want to come and try to play … be my guest,” Robertson said. “That’s all. That’s all you say. They can’t do this. They can’t, so they don’t really have the right to say that. It’s a tough game.”
Tampa Bay center fielder Rocco Baldelli was a late scratch because of right hamstring soreness. He has made 44 starts since being activated from the DL on June 7 after missing 221 consecutive games with left knee, right elbow and hamstring injuries.
“It doesn’t feel good,” Baldelli said. “We’ll play it day by day. When I woke up this morning it was pretty sore. I went out for batting practice and figured it was better to take a day and see how it is tomorrow.”
Baldelli was hurt running out a grounder on Wednesday.
Tigers C Ivan Rodriguez (sore right thumb) was in the lineup after missing Wednesday’s game. He went 1-for-4 and has three hits over his last 15 at-bats. … Tampa Bay 2B Jorge Cantu was hitless in four at-bats and is in a 2-for-26 slide.