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Shields settles down to stifle Tigers

Shields settles down to stifle Tigers

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RAYS 7, TIGERS (ss) 2
at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Sunday, March 16

Tigers at the plate: Gary Sheffield hit a leadoff double and scored Detroit's first run on an Edgar Renteria single in the top of the sixth inning. Marcus Thames hit a solo homer over the left-field fence to start the eighth.

Rays at the plate: Tampa Bay got on the board first, opening the bottom of the third inning with three consecutive hits, followed by back-to-back sacrifice flies to center field by Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton. Upton doubled to start the sixth and scored on a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria. Mike Difelice was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored.

Tigers on the mound: Lefty Dontrelle Willis made his fourth start, coming off a tough outing in Cincinnati, where he walked four batters in 2 1/3 innings. Willis pared the walks down to two, but he had a rough third inning, giving up three hits and three earned runs. Aquilino Lopez pitched two hitless innings with a pair of strikeouts. Zach Miner was charged with two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings.

Rays on the mound: Also making his fourth spring start, James Shields -- who will be Tampa Bay's Opening Day starter -- struggled with control early, hitting a batter and issuing a walk in the first inning. Shields settled down, allowing two hits, three walks and no runs in 4 2/3 innings. Grant Balfour got Placido Polanco to line out to end the fifth inning. Troy Percival ended his hitless spring streak, allowing one run on three hits in one inning.

Grapefruit League records: Rays 13-3-1, Tigers 11-7-2.

Up next for the Tigers: With Spring Training entering its next-to-last week, Detroit will bring most of its Opening Day lineup to Sarasota, Fla. on Monday for a 1:05 p.m. ET matchup with Cincinnati. Kenny Rogers will make his fourth start of the spring opposite Johnny Cueto, who has been the Reds' spring surprise in his quest for a starting rotation spot.

Up next for the Rays: On Monday, Tampa Bay will enjoy its lone day off during Spring Training before going on the road Tuesday to play Philadelphia at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla., at 1:05 p.m. ET. Righty Matt Garza will get the start, opposite Phillies lefty Cole Hamels. The game is the first of back-to-back meetings between the two clubs.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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