Kazmir, Devil Rays beat reeling Tigers 8-1, dropping Detroit to 11-17 since All-Star break

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DETROIT (AP)—Scott Kazmir and Carl Crawford were too much to handle for the struggling Detroit Tigers.

Kazmir pitched six scoreless innings, Crawford homered and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat Detroit 8-1 Thursday to win consecutive road games for the first time in nearly two months. The victory clinched the season series for the Devil Rays, the first time they’ve accomplished that against a defending AL champion.

Kazmir (9-7) gave up three hits, struck out seven and walked one to win his second consecutive start. He pitched out of a two-on jam in the fourth by striking out Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen, then retiring Ivan Rodriguez on a grounder.

Kazmir’s victory came a night after teammate James Shields pitched seven strong innings in a 7-1 win.

“That’s why I wanted them back-to-back,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Hopefully, we can build off this.”

Before beating the Tigers on Wednesday, Tampa Bay had lost eight straight road games and 19 of 21, and had not won consecutive games away from home since June 17-18 against Colorado and Arizona.

Detroit split the four-game series against the team with the worst record in the major leagues (44-70) and has lost six of eight. The Tigers are 11-17 since the All-Star break.

“The little extra spark we had last year is not here,” manager Jim Leyland said. “We better find it. … We’re playing like it doesn’t mean enough to us.”

Jeremy Bonderman (10-5) dropped his fourth straight start, giving up seven runs and 10 hits in six innings. He has allowed 23 runs in his last three outings. Bonderman, who was 10-1 in mid-July, did not speak to reporters after the loss, the second straight in which he’s allowed 10 hits.

He’s not Detroit’s only faltering pitcher: Tigers starters have won just once in the team’s last 22 games.

“He’s the least of my worries,” Leyland said about the right-hander. “He’s one of my horses and I’ll stick by him.”

Crawford was 3-for-4 with the homer and two doubles for the Devil Rays. He is hitting .433 since the All-Star break and is the major leagues’ best hitter in day games (.417).

“Everything he hits right now—breaking balls, fastballs—it doesn’t matter,” Maddon said. “He’s locked in right now.”

Bonderman, frequently dogged by shaky opening innings this season, walked three during a 30-pitch first but allowed just one run, on Delmon Young’s two-out bloop single. Bonderman then struck out Ben Zobrist with the bases loaded.

Crawford extended his hitting streak to 10 games in the fifth inning with a two-run homer, and Zobrist hit an RBI double in the sixth that made it 4-0.

“I’m just trying to keep it simple,” said Crawford, who has 18 hits in his last 27 at-bats. “Just trying to get a base hit. I’m not swinging at bad pitches.”

Teammate Carlos Pena thought Crawford was being too modest.

“He’s as hot as I’ve seen in my life,” he said. “It’s awesome, a lot of fun to watch.”

Bonderman gave up three straight hits to start the seventh and was chased by B.J. Upton’s run-scoring single. Young and Greg Norton hit RBI singles off Tim Byrdak, and Zobrist’s sacrifice fly made it 8-0.

Omar Infante singled home Detroit’s run in the seventh off Gary Glover. Outfielder Marcus Thames, recalled from a rehab assignment at Triple-A Toledo on Thursday, went 2-for-4 with a run in his first game since July 19, when he pulled a hamstring at Minnesota.

Polanco went 2-for-4 to pass teammate Magglio Ordonez for the AL batting lead.

Notes

Morning showers delayed the start by 28 minutes. … Crawford stole his AL-leading 37th base in the first. … A crowd of 38,789 sent the Tigers over 2 million in home attendance for a team-record third straight season.

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