DETROIT -- Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly to center with no outs in the ninth inning Wednesday night scored the first run of the Tampa Bay Rays' 3-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers.
Sam Fuld beat out a bunt single to first to open the ninth off Doug Fister (5-3), and he raced to third on Ben Zobrist's ground single to right. Joyce's fly ball broke a scoreless tie, and Zobrist took second on the throw.
A wild pitch moved Zobrist to third, and Evan Longoria grounded an RBI single through short. Desmond Jennings added an RBI triple off reliever Drew Smyly.
Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings, exiting prior to a tradition-defying move by the Rays. Manager Joe Maddon had Cobb walk Miguel Cabrera intentionally with a man on second, two outs and first base open. Maddon then brought in right-hander Joel Peralta to pitch to the left-handed-hitting Prince Fielder rather than bring in southpaw Jake McGee, who was also warming up.
The key was Fielder has hit left-handers far better than right-handers this season -- .373 to .241 entering the game. Peralta (1-2) struck Fielder out to end the inning, and he earned the win when the Tigers broke the scoreless tie.
Fernando Rodney earned his 12th save, although he had to strand two runners.
Fister and Cobb staged a classic pitchers' duel through the early innings, with each team blowing up its one chance to score the game's first run in the third.
The Rays got a one-out double by Jose Lobaton and a single to left by Yunel Escobar that put runners at first and third.
Drawn-in first baseman Fielder made a diving stop of Fuld's sharp grounder to his right and threw home without getting up. Lobaton had 15 feet to go when Alex Avila got the ball, and the runner retreated to third with the Detroit catcher after him.
Avila tagged Lobaton shy of the bag for one out and alertly put the glove on Escobar sliding into third for an inning-ending, two-outs-for-one play.
Avila walked to begin the Tigers' half of the third, and Omar Infante singled to left, with Avila stopping at second. Avisail Garcia forced Infante to give Detroit its shot at a first-and-third, one-out situation.
Garcia was thrown out trying to steal second, a play that likely was the result of a signal mixup. Either Garcia misinterpreted a sign as a steal or batter Andy Dirks missed a hit-and-run.
NOTES: LF Kelly Johnson was late scratch from the Tampa Bay lineup due to back tightness. Sam Fuld replaced him in the lineup, leading off, with original leadoff man Joyce sliding down to third in place of Johnson. ... Longoria "has the ability to really slow the game down," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "He's a terrific third baseman -- but my third baseman (Cabrera) is going to start the All-Star Game." ... The Rays signed former Nationals C Jesus Flores to a minor league contract, assigning him to Triple-A Durham. He will give the organization protection following a hand injury to Chris Gimenez. Flores played in 83 games for Washington last season, hitting .213 with six home runs and 26 RBIs. ... Tigers CF Austin Jackson continues to feel soreness in his left hamstring. He won't be sent on a rehab assignment until the pain disappears. ... Rays LHP David Price is scheduled to throw Friday, his first bullpen session since being sidelined with a left triceps strain. Pitching coach Jim Hickey said Price would have three bullpen sessions before making some rehab starts, which means the team's ace won't be back until late June at the earliest.