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Miguel Cabrera walkoff homer lifts Detroit Tigers past Tampa Bay Rays

By
Rich Shook, The Sports Xchange
Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera trots to home plate after hitting a home run. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Detroit Tigers' Miguel Cabrera trots to home plate after hitting a home run. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

DETROIT -- Miguel Cabrera wasn't gone and he wasn't forgotten.

What has been missing was Cabrera's power, which appeared with some abruptness Thursday night with one out and one on in the ninth inning when his first home run since May 20 nestled softly into the seats just past the right-field wall.

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Cabrera's first home run in 23 games -- his sixth of the season and seventh career walkoff blast -- gave the Detroit Tigers a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

"Miguel Cabrera's Miguel Cabrera," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "He's one of the best for a reason. Fastball. Amazing, the guy can hit the ball out anyplace in the ballpark in any ballpark."

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Reliever Tommy Hunter (0-2) gave up a one-out single to Alex Avila in the ninth and pinch-runner Andrew Romine watched halfway between first and second as Cabrera's high fly ball on a 2-1, 97-mph fastball went into the seats.

"Alex has had good at-bats all year," Detroit manager Brad Ausmus said. "He's been one of our most consistent hitters. There might have been a little extra incentive because he and Hunter were roommates in college. I'm sure Alex's full concentration was there."

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"Maybe that was a no-doubter in Miggy's book, but it wasn't in my book," teammate Ian Kinsler said of why Romine was shuffling slowly toward second as the ball was in the air.

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In Cabrera's 22 games without a home run, he batted .316 (25-for-79) with 10 doubles but only 12 RBIs. The average was there, but the power was missing.

Closer Justin Wilson (3-2) picked up the win after pitching the ninth inning. He gave up a two-out bloop single to left and then struck out Evan Longoria to end the inning.

Steven Souza Jr. launched a 1-0 Francisco Rodriguez changeup into the seats in left field with one out in the eighth to bring Tampa Bay to a 3-3 tie after Detroit had taken the lead with an unearned run in the seventh.

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A twisting squibbed grounder to short by Victor Martinez glanced off Daniel Robertson's glove for an error as he overran the ball and let Kinsler stroll in from third base to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead with two out in the seventh. Jumbo Diaz had relieved after a single, walk and double play against starter Alex Cobb left a runner on third.

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"He looked like when he went up to address the ball he probably ran through it a little bit," Cash said. "I'm sure he knew that Victor was running, not the fastest guy, so he might have rushed to get to the spot and his feet came out from underneath him.

"Robby's played great defensive for us. It's unfortunate that play happened that way. Souza came up and picked him up in a big way to tie it back up at 3-3."

The Tigers tied it 2-2 on doubles by Cabrera with one out and J.D. Martinez with two outs in the third after the Rays took a 2-1 lead in the top of the inning on Logan Morrison's RBI double, which came two outs after a Mallex Smith single.

Morrison singled and Souza Jr. walked to begin the second for Tampa Bay. The Rays first baseman scored the tying run on consecutive groundouts by Colby Rasmus and Robertson.

Kinsler got hit by a 1-1 pitch to open the first for Detroit, stole second uncontested and gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead when he scored on a line single to center by Victor Martinez, his first RBI of June.

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Cobb made his 100th start for Tampa Bay and gave up three runs (one unearned) and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out three.

Justin Verlander started for Detroit and allowed two runs in seven innings. He walked five, struck out six and allowed six hits.

NOTES: Rays C Wilson Ramos, recovering from ACL surgery last summer, caught seven innings Wednesday night in a rehab assignment at Triple-A Durham. ... Detroit RHP Michael Fulmer (right shoulder bursitis) reported no ill effects Thursday from a bullpen the day before and is on track to start Saturday. ... Tampa Bay RHP Brad Boxberger (right flexor strain) worked a 15-pitch seventh inning and struck out the side for Durham in his rehab assignment. ... Tigers RHP Francisco Rodriguez has allowed seven home runs in 22 2/3 innings after giving up Steven Souza Jr.'s blast in the eighth inning.

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