ST. PETERSBURG -- Curt Casali powered the Rays with two home runs to lead a 5-2 win over the Tigers on Monday night at Tropicana Field.
Casali homered off Anibal Sanchez on the first pitch of the third inning to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Kevin Kiermaier added an RBI double in the fourth and Logan Forsythe singled home a run in the fifth to put the Rays up, 3-0.
Yoenis Cespedes hit a solo blast off Rays starter Nathan Karns to lead off the seventh, then added an RBI single off Jake McGee in the eighth to cut the Rays' lead to 3-2. Casali answered for the Rays with a two-run homer in the eighth to push the lead to 5-2.
"The hits we did get were big," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Curt Casali, what a day. Huge hits. Obviously the first one, but the second one to extend the lead and give us a little breathing room is always nice."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Karns' quality: Karns shut out the Tigers on one hit for six innings before surrendering a home run to Cespedes. When Victor Martinez followed with a single to left, Karns was lifted, but the right-hander gave the Rays his eighth quality start of the season en route to his sixth win.
"I ran into some success through the first six innings, and in the seventh ran into a little trouble, but today I felt like things were going smoothly," Karns said.
Cespedes spark plug: The Tigers' offense looked like it was still sleepwalking after a 5 a.m. ET arrival from Boston following a Sunday night game at Fenway Park. Then, after six innings of one-hit ball from Karns, Cespedes hit the first pitch of the seventh out on a line midway up the left-field seats. Cespedes' 16th home run of the year sparked a rally that brought the potential tying run to the plate until Kevin Jepsen retired Jose Iglesias.
Casali power: Casali started for the third consecutive game on Monday and homered twice, giving him three home runs in three starts. The reserve catcher's second -- which appeared to have some play with the B-ring catwalk before landing over the left-field wall -- gave him five on the season. More >
Tigers nearly rally against McGee: McGee hadn't allowed a run in 21 consecutive appearances when he took the mound for the eighth. He nearly retired the Tigers in order, but Ian Kinsler fouled off five pitches in a nine-pitch at-bat that ended with a two-out single. A wild pitch and a Cespedes bloop single brought Kinsler home to cut the deficit to 3-2 and bring up Martinez, but even batting right-handed couldn't help him much against McGee's power fastball as he recorded an inning-ending strikeout.
"It was a very Rays-like win. We were efficient pitching. There were tremendous plays. ... And we got some timely hits." -- Cash
"It's never fun when you're not playing the way you expect to play, but we'll come back tomorrow. Like I said, we're not throwing in the towel. You know how baseball is. You win three out of four, four out of six, and everyone's perspective changes. We just haven't put that type of run together." -- Tigers manager Brad Ausmus
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Rookies have accounted for 39.8 percent of the Rays' home runs this season (35 of 88).
Eleven of Cespedes' 16 home runs have been hit on the road, including six of his past seven.
WHAT'S NEXT Tigers: One year after being traded from Tampa Bay at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, David Price (9-3, 2.31 ERA) makes his final start before this year's Deadline back at Tropicana Field, with trade rumors surrounding him yet again. Price tossed eight innings of one-hit ball here last Aug. 21. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.85 ERA) will make his 16th start after receiving a five-inning no-decision on Wednesday. He has received three runs or more just four times in his fifteen starts. Odorizzi is 2-2 with a 1.40 ERA in six starts at Tropicana Field this season.