Rays draw blank against Tigers' Porcello

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Detroit Tigers manager Brad Ausmus believes that as long as Rick Porcello keeps the ball down he is as tough as any pitcher in their rotation.

On Wednesday night, the right-hander had all of his stuff working and the Tampa Bay Rays had no answers.

Porcello pitched a complete-game shutout -- retiring 20 consecutive batters at one point -- and Victor Martinez hit a grand slam as the Tigers defeated Rays 6-0.

"You literally can't ask for anything more," Ausmus said. "His location of his fastball was good on both sides of the plate. Today he was really good on the corners, inside to lefties, inside to righties, away to both. His location was good, and that goes hand-in-hand with throwing strikes."

Porcello was staked to a 1-0 lead before he took the mound and gave up a double to Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, the second batter he faced. From there, he retired the next 20 batters, sending the Rays (61-65) down in order for six straight innings until first baseman James Loney reached on a leadoff single in the eighth.

"I really had no idea about how many batters it was," Porcello said. "It was a tight game and I was trying to get outs and put up zeroes."

For six innings, Porcello (14-8) and Rays starter Jake Odorizzi (9-10) were nearly going pitch for pitch.

Odorizzi's only mistake came in the first inning when he gave up a two-out single to first baseman Miguel Cabrera and Martinez followed with a double into the right field corner that gave right fielder Kevin Kiermaier trouble and allowed Cabrera to score for a 1-0 Detroit lead.

From there, Odorizzi retired 15 of the next 16 batters he faced.

"I thought my stuff was really good, some of the best I've had all year," Odorizzi said. "It was really good, especially after that 30-pitch first inning, but a few walks there kind of got me a little bit in the sixth and seventh."

In the sixth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases against Odorizzi with two outs, but he escaped the jam by getting third baseman Nick Castellanos to ground out to third.

In the seventh inning, the Tigers (68-56) flipped the script. After Odorizzi retired catcher Alex Avila and shortstop Andrew Romine, he gave up a double to center fielder Rajai Davis and a single to second baseman Ian Kinsler that scored Davis and chased the starter.

The Tigers proceeded to load the bases against Rays reliever Kirby Yates on a single by right fielder Torii Hunter and a walk to Cabrera to set the table for Martinez, who sent a 1-2 offering into the right field stands to increase the lead to 6-0.

"I tried to throw it up and I didn't get it up," Yates said. "I didn't execute and he's a great hitter and that's what he can do in a situation like that."

Porcello cruised to the finish line from there, striking out four on 104 pitches. Odorizzi was charged with three runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven.

"We hit a couple of balls well, but for the most part, a lot of ground-ball outs," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's what he is. He pitched really well."

NOTES: On Thursday, Tigers LHP David Price will face the Rays for the first time since being traded July 31 as part of a three-team deal. Rays 3B Evan Longoria said, "We have a good relationship off the field, and we can enjoy those moments after the game. But when the game starts, I think it's pretty easy for him and I to put those things aside and just go out and compete." ... Tampa Bay OF David DeJesus (broken left hand) moved his rehab assignment to Class-A Charlotte on Wednesday. He experienced renewed soreness while playing Saturday in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League, then sat out for three days. ... Tigers RHP Max Scherzer reached 200 strikeouts for the third consecutive season after striking out nine Rays on Tuesday night. He has 205 strikeouts this season. ... The Rays optioned INF Vince Belnome to Triple-A Durham to make room for OF Wil Myers, who went 0-3 in his return to the lineup after missing 70 games with a fractured wrist.

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