ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Except for Miguel Cabrera, the Detroit Tigers are not delivering clutch hits.
The lack of timely offense cost the Tigers again Sunday in a 3-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cabrera hit a 424-foot home run in the fourth inning, but the Tigers failed to score in the seventh after loading the bases with nobody out.
"Runs have been a problem for us and they were again today. That pretty much sums it up," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Detroit went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The Tigers have lost five of six, with a .185 RISP average over that span (10 for 54).
The Tigers (43-37), who moved into the AL Central lead on May 24, saw their division lead cut to one percentage point over second-place Cleveland (44-38).
Jeremy Hellickson earned his fifth June win for the Rays in a game that included an early warning by the umpires. Hellickson (7-3) allowed one run over six-plus innings. Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 17th save.
Both benches were warned by plate umpire Vic Carapazza after Detroit's Rick Porcello (4-6) hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch in the first. Nothing further developed.
"I was surprised," Porcello said. "I tried to throw a fastball in, and it just got away from me."
A day earlier, Cabrera had yelled at the Tampa Bay dugout after striking out in the 10th inning. Rodney had thrown a high-and-tight fastball before fanning the Tigers star, and Leyland said after the Saturday game that "somebody has to pay the price for that."
Zobrist walked to first base after being struck with two outs and no one on base Sunday.
"I think it was pretty clear in everybody's mind that it was intentional after the things that were said last night," Zobrist said.
Not quite everybody.
"That's part of baseball. Guys get hit in baseball games," Leyland said. "That's nothing new. We got three guys hit last week, we hit a couple guys last week. That's all part of the game. Nobody's trying to hit anybody."
Cabrera, booed before each of his at-bats, tied it with his 25th homer, extending his hitting streak to 15 games.
With the Rays leading 3-1, Andy Dirks led off the Tigers seventh with a double off Hellickson. Omar Infante followed with a single and Ramon Santiago walked, loading the bases with none out.
Left-hander Jake McGee came in to get three straight outs.
"A lot of times when you say you're struggling with something, that's kind of obvious, but the solution is not so obvious," Leyland said. "You can get a little goofy and start playing games with the lineup, but I don't really believe in that. I don't think there's any gimmicks or tricks, I think the lineup is pretty much the way it should be."
NOTES: Leyland, the AL All-Star manager, supports the rule that all teams have a player in the game. "You can get a lot of arguments because it's probably not a true All-Star team when you have to have somebody from every team, but I love the fact that every uniform is represented at the All-Star game," Leyland said. "I think that's really a nice touch." ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria (plantar fasciitis) missed his second consecutive game. ... Denny McLain, the majors' last 30-gane winner, was at the ballpark. He did it in 1968 with the Tigers. ... Cabrera went 1 for 4 and his major league-leading average dropped two points to .373.