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Tigers put up fight, fall in extra innings

Detroit battles back from deficits of 5-0, 9-7 before Rays walk off in 10th
MLB.com @beckjason

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tigers have played some strange games against the Rays at Tropicana Field over the years, from Phil Coke's 51-pitch, two-inning save in 2011 to the eight-run ninth inning they posted to erase a five-run deficit in a game two years ago. Monday night was up there among those.

"It was a wild ballgame," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Daniel Robertson's 10th-inning walkoff single sent them to a 10-9 loss. "They got us at the end."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- The Tigers have played some strange games against the Rays at Tropicana Field over the years, from Phil Coke's 51-pitch, two-inning save in 2011 to the eight-run ninth inning they posted to erase a five-run deficit in a game two years ago. Monday night was up there among those.

"It was a wild ballgame," manager Ron Gardenhire said after Daniel Robertson's 10th-inning walkoff single sent them to a 10-9 loss. "They got us at the end."

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Though it dropped Detroit back to 13 games under .500, it served as a reminder that the Tigers are never out of it, a feeling that had seemingly quieted after their 11-game losing streak last month. Detroit rallied from a five-run first inning to tie the game in the seventh, then tied it again in the eighth after the Rays answered once more. They forced Tampa Bay to use nine pitchers ahead of likely back-to-back bullpen starts, so the rallies could yet pay dividends for Detroit.

Video: DET@TB: Iglesias ties game with double to left in 7th

That didn't diminish the disappointment as they sat in a silent clubhouse Monday night, having played nearly four hours without a win for their troubles.

"That had a blowout feeling from the get-go," said Blaine Hardy, whose 1-1 pitch to Robertson went a few feet to his right with a 106-mph exit velocity according to Statcast™ to score Kevin Kiermaier and end the marathon. "Our hitters chipped back, and it's like, 'Oh, we're still in this.' Both teams pretty much exhausted everybody in the bullpen, so the next couple days should be interesting."

The Tigers faced a 5-0 deficit early after a 40-pitch first inning for Francisco Liriano, including a fly ball that right fielder Nicholas Castellanos lost against the backdrop of the roof for a two-run double. Niko Goodrum's two-run double helped Detroit cut into its deficit in the third inning, but Wilson Ramos' homer in the bottom half helped chase Liriano with seven runs on eight hits over 2 1/3 innings.

Video: DET@TB: Goodrum plates a pair with a double to right

Drew VerHagen's 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief thwarted a blowout, but Detroit still entered the seventh inning with a 7-3 deficit. Two walks, two hit-by-pitches, a sacrifice fly and two RBI doubles led the Tigers back, culminating with Jose Iglesias' two-run rip into the left-field corner. Carlos Gomez's squeeze bunt -- with Ronny Rodriguez playing a step back -- and Joey Wendle's pinch-hit double put the Rays back in front, but a Victor Martinez RBI single and Mikie Mahtook infield single led the Tigers back once more, this time at 9-9.

"You're just trying to grind it out," VerHagen said. "We came back twice, which is pretty impressive. We played pretty well. That's kind of we've been all year, fighting until the very end, scoring runs late."

Video: DET@TB: Martinez singles in run to cut deficit to 1

The two teams combined for 14 hits with runners in scoring position, yet left 21 men on base. In the Tigers' case, they left the go-ahead run in scoring position at the end of both game-tying rallies. And yet, they had the position they wanted, with Alex Wilson and Hardy combining to retire eight consecutive batters from the seventh inning into the 10th.

Kiermaier's one-out triple off Hardy changed the course in the 10th. With first and second base open, he could choose how to navigate the middle of the Rays' order, a luxury he used with Matt Duffy's nine-pitch walk.

"We have a double-play in order in case there's weak contact," Hardy said. "I wish I was a superhero, where I could actually get to that ball that bounced four feet away from me, but it was hit pretty hard."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
VerHagen faced runners at second and third with one out in the third inning, and the Rays on the verge of turning the game into a blowout. But the right-hander, just back from a rehab stint at Triple-A Toledo, induced a comebacker from former Tigers prospect Willy Adames, then retired Kiermaier to keep the deficit at 7-3. From there, he struck out three of his next four batters on called third strikes.

"My two-seam fastball had good movement on it, so I was throwing that away to righties," VerHagen said. "It was coming back over the plate, so that was a good pitch for me."

SOUND SMART
The five-run first inning was the first allowed by the Tigers since Sept. 29, 2015, at Texas.

UP NEXT
Matthew Boyd (4-7, 4.58) will try to shake off his recent struggles at the Rays' expense as the series continues Tuesday night with a 7:10 p.m. ET matchup at Tropicana Field. Boyd tossed six innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts against the Rays on May 1 at Comerica Park, part of his dominant early stretch. Tampa Bay will send Ryne Stanek to oppose him.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

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