- Associated Press - Saturday, July 2, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG. Fla. (AP) - Tampa Bay rookie Blake Snell is showing real promise but wasn’t able to match Detroit ace Justin Verlander.

Verlander allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings, and the Tigers won their fifth consecutive game by beating Snell and the Rays 3-2 on Saturday.

Snell (1-3) gave up three runs, four hits, four walks and had four strikeouts over 5 1-3 innings in his fifth start.

“We’ve still yet to see really the best of Blake,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He’s giving us a chance to win, there’s no doubt.”

Two walks by Snell set up the Tigers first run, which came on a Jose Iglesias’ second-inning single. His wild pitch in the sixth moved Justin Upton from second to third before Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a sacrifice fly.

“Stuff that I need to work on, attack and be aggressive,” Snell said. “It’s frustrating but I’m definitely going to keep working on it.”

Verlander (8-6) struck out eight and walk one as he improved to 5-2 in eight starts at Tropicana Field. The right-hander was coming off a start Sunday in which he gave up eight runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 9-3 loss to Cleveland.

“We got beat by a really good pitcher that had really good stuff,” Cash said. “He attacked. He definitely made it tough.”

Justin Wilson pitched the eighth before Francisco Rodriguez got the final three out to get his 23rd save.

The Tigers look to complete a four-game sweep Sunday against the reeling Rays, who lost for the 15th time in 17 games.

After Ian Kinsler had a fifth-inning solo homer, Detroit took a 3-1 lead on Saltalamacchia sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Logan Morrison pulled the Rays within 3-2 with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth.

Iglesias put the Tigers ahead 1-0 on his RBI single in the second. Snell avoided further damage by getting a comeback from the hot-hitting Cameron Maybin with the bases loaded and two outs.

“I can see why they like him,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said.

Maybin, who entered on a seven-game hitting streak (14 for 28), was hitless in three at-bats.

The Rays tied it at 1 in the fourth when Logan Forsythe singled, went to third on an errant pick-off throw by Verlander and scored on a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria.

Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza Jr. returned after missing 17 games due to a strained left hip and went 1 for 3. He was picked off first base by Verlander after a second-inning infield single.


Tigers: 1B Miguel Cabrera was rested. It was his first time out of the lineup since May 10.

Rays: A decision on whether RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) will start a rehab assignment or have one additional simulated game is expected to be announced after his bullpen session Sunday. … LHP Jonny Venters, attempting to comeback from three Tommy John surgeries, has been placed on the disabled list at Class A Charlotte with an UCL injury and is talking with doctors about the next step. . CF Kevin Kiermaier (fractured left hand) hit off a tee.


The Rays’ current 2-15 stretch matches the worst 17-game run (June 26-July 15, 2007) in team history. . Tampa Bay (33-47) is a season-worst 14 games under .500.


Rays RHP Chris Archer (4-11), who leads the majors in losses, looks to end a four-start losing streak Sunday against Tigers RHP Mike Pelfrey (2-7).

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