DETROIT -- Two of the best pitchers not to make the American League All-Star game roster were on display Sunday night at Comerica Park.
Rick Porcello, an 11-game winner having the best season of his still young career, dueled Tampa Bay lefty David Price, the subject of many trade rumors because of his outstanding arm and his team's losing record, as part of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.
If this was indeed Price's last start in a Tampa Bay uniform he left on a winning note, posting a 7-3 victory.
"He's still David Price,'' said Tigers manager Brad Ausmus. "He's one of the best in the league and one of the best in the game. He threw well. I thought we hit some ball pretty well off him. We had some good at-bats. We hit some line drives, some hit to the shortstop and some others run down by the centerfielder. It's tough to come back against a guy like Price.''
Don't let the last-place Rays (41-50) fool you. They are a decent team and beat up the Tigers in winning three of four; pounding out 19 hits in the finale.
Porcello (11-5, 3.53 earned run average) immediately gave up his first run in 25 innings when centerfielder Desmond Jennings (three hits) led off with a double and Ben Zobrist (four hits) lined a sharp single past Ian Kinsler for a 1-0 lead.
Matt Joyce homered, just reaching the right field seats to make it 3-0. Porcello hadn't registered an out until cleanup hitter Evan Longoria flied out to Austin Jackson.
"I got behind 2-1 in the count on Joyce and got into a fastball count,'' said Porcello. "I tried to come in with a sinker and it ran back over the middle of the plate. I was falling behind guys. I didn't stay down in the zone well tonight at all. I wasn't sharp early and obviously in the later innings kind of lost it again.''
Three runs would be just about all Price (8-7) would need as Porcello gave up seven runs, 11 hits and two home runs in 5 2/3 innings.
All-Star Miguel Cabrera had a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the first, but Price suffered no further damage until Torii Hunter homered in the seventh.
"He was pounding the strike zone,'' Hunter said of Price. "You try to work the count and you could get behind if you wanted to; you'll be behind. He made us swing the bat, and we hit the ball hard. We counted 19 times and we only had seven hits to show for it. No luck.''
Porcello settled down through the middle innings and showed the form that produced 25 consecutive scoreless innings, but with Price on the mound it was too late.
"He was up in the zone,'' Ausmus said of Porcello. "I've always said the key for him is keeping the sinker down. When it gets up it gets flat and you see more fly balls. He made the adjustment and started getting the ball down and got some ground balls, but a couple of them found holes and were hits.
The Rays added another run in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Longoria.
Price kept cruising with one strikeout in the fourth and two more in the fifth as the Tigers appeared overmatched against the hard-throwing left-hander.
The Rays added another run in the sixth when the Detroit defense was unable to turn a double play as Sean Rodriguez (four hits) scored from third.
Jennings ended Porcello's disappointing night in the sixth with a two-run shot to left centerfield to make it 7-1, and added two spectacular plays in centerfield to rob Tigers' of hits.
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