Rays win on RBI fielder’s choice in 10th inning

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Sean Rodriguez(notes) ran hard on a routine grounder and it resulted in a Tampa Bay victory.

Elliot Johnson(notes) had a game-ending fielder’s choice in the 10th inning and the Rays beat the Detroit Tigers 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Rodriguez beat a throw to second on Johnson’s bases-load grounder that allowed Ben Zobrist(notes) to score the winning run.

“We win the game because a guy running at first, Sean, does the right thing,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “We win because of him and his effort. Sean gets a great lead at first, a great jump and makes the play. That doesn’t happen every night.”

Evan Longoria(notes) opened the 10th with an infield single off Duane Below(notes) (0-2), but was forced out at second on Zobrist’s grounder. After Matt Joyce(notes) struck out, Casey Kotchman(notes) was hit by a pitch and pinch-hitter Rodriguez walked to load the bases.

Johnson then hit a grounder to third baseman Brandon Inge(notes), who threw to second, where second baseman Ramon Santiago(notes) was late getting to the bag and Rodriguez slide in safely.

“It was fortunate … Inge got rid of it real good, but Santiago didn’t get there, I guess, early enough,” Rodriguez said. “The ball beat me there, but he didn’t.”

Inge, a defensive replacement in the 10th, also briefly bobbled Zobrist’s grounder, which might have cost the Tigers a double play.

“It’s not obvious I could have gotten him at third,” Inge said. “I was playing way back to give myself a better angle. He hit the ball to my left, so it’s very cut and dried … On a ball hit to your left, you go to second base all the time. That’s the right move. That’s the only play you have.”

Tigers manager Jim Leyland said the final play is just part of the game.

“I thought there was an out at first or probably at third,” Leyland said. “We didn’t execute a couple of chances and it cost us. We couldn’t come up with the big hit. We didn’t do much offensively.”

Joel Peralta(notes) (3-4) pitched a perfect 10th.

Longoria hit a solo homer for the Rays, who entered 0-5 against Detroit this season. Wade Davis(notes) allowed two runs and four hits in nine innings.

Detroit got a solo shot from Alex Avila(notes), who has six homers and 16 RBIs in 20 games this month. The Tigers had a five-game winning streak end.

The Rays had two on and one out in the ninth, but Below got Johnny Damon(notes) to ground into a double play. Damon has hit into just three double plays in 479 at-bats this season.

Damon gave the Rays a 2-1 lead on his 2,700th career hit, an RBI double off Max Scherzer(notes) in the fifth. The Tampa Bay designated hitter also doubled in the first and moved past Mark Grace (511) into 45th place all-time with 513 doubles.

Avila pulled the Tigers even at 2 on his 16th homer this year during the seventh. He is 8 for 21, including four home runs, against Tampa Bay this season.

Scherzer gave up two runs and four hits in five innings. The right-hander was pulled after throwing 97 pitches.

Longoria tied it at 1 with his 22nd homer of the season in the fourth. It was his 104th career homer, tying him for third place on Tampa Bay’s career list with Carl Crawford(notes). Longoria has 61 RBIs over his last 64 games.

Austin Jackson(notes) put the Tigers up 1-0 on a third-inning sacrifice fly.

Davis struck out Miguel Cabrera(notes) with two runners on to the end the sixth. Cabrera flew out to deep center leading off the ninth.

Notes: Damon is the 64th player to reach 2,700 hits. … Leyland said Tampa Bay’s rotation is the best in the AL. “I really believe that,” Leyland said. “Pretty impressive.” … Cabrera will go on the paternity leave list and miss Thursday’s game, but is expected to rejoin the team Friday. … C Omir Santos(notes) will be called up from Triple-A Toledo to replace Cabrera and likely will give Avila, who has started 18 straight games at catcher, a break. … Tampa Bay CF B.J Upton (strained right shoulder) struck out as a pinch hitter for the second straight game. … Rays bullpen coach Bobby Ramos (throat infection) is not with the team. … Tigers RHP Doug Fister(notes) (5-3) will pitch against Tampa Bay RHP Jeremy Hellickson(notes) (11-8) in Thursday’s series finale.

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