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Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan Attendance: 20,866
Hicks' bunt lifts Tigers to 3-2 win over Rays in 12
By LARRY LAGE
DETROIT (AP) John Hicks stepped into the batter's box and saw a shifted infield, playing the right-handed hitter to pull the ball.
He had other plans.
Hicks' bunt single scored JaCoby Jones in the 12th inning, lifting the Detroit Tigers to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday.
"I looked to the right side and said this would be a perfect time for it," Hicks said.
Jones started the winning rally with a leadoff triple. Hicks then bunted toward first and the Rays didn't have a chance to make a play at the plate.
First baseman Brad Miller, who was playing about 25 feet to the left of first before the pitch, charged in to field the ball and collided with right-hander Matt Andriese (0-1).
"I was thinking that if I could pull off a glove flip, we probably had a chance," Miller said. "I'm sure Matt was thinking the same thing and we kind of mangled each other."
Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said before the game he had been encouraging his players to try to beat shifts by hitting to the opposite field. Hours later, Gardenhire said he didn't tell Hicks to bunt.
"I'm crazy," Gardenhire said. "But I'm not that crazy."
Warwick Saupold (1-0) got three outs for the win, striking out two. He combined with five other relievers for six scoreless innings, yielding just two hits.
Tampa Bay left-hander Blake Snell was pulled after he surrendered James McCann's tying solo homer with two out in the seventh. Snell, who had won his previous four starts, gave up five hits, struck out four and walked one.
"Nothing felt right, so I was glad I got through 6 2/3 innings," he said.
The Rays had a chance to regain the lead in the eighth, putting a runner on second with two out. But Carlos Gomez's liner was snagged by leaping second baseman Dixon Machado.
Michael Fulmer pitched six innings of two-run ball for Detroit. Fulmer has yielded a total of four earned runs in his last three starts, and hasn't factored in the decision in each of those games.
"When we had Fulmer at 50 pitches through four, I didn't think he could get through six," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "But he reset himself."
Machado's groundout got Detroit on the board in the fifth and McCann's third homer this season made it 2-all in the seventh.
The second-place Tigers (13-16) won two straight over the Rays and are playing better than anyone outside their clubhouse expected during a rebuilding season .
"We're not surprised because from Day 1 of spring training, we blocked out the outside noise," McCann said.
The Rays have played a baseball -high 15 games, including the last four, decided by a run and have won just five of those games.
Cash, with a lot of gray hair on the side of his head and some on top, is well aware of how many tight games he has managed this season.
"Look at my hair," he deadpanned.
Rays: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (right elbow surgery) recently threw nearly 100 mph, but the Rays are sticking to their plan to bring him back in a few weeks. "He's chomping at the bit and I would, too, if I threw 99 in a bullpen session," Cash said.
Tigers: Slugger Miguel Cabrera missed his third straight game because of a left biceps spasm and there's no timetable for his return.
Rays: LHP Ryan Yarbrough (1-1) is expected to start when Tampa Bay begins a homestand Friday night against Toronto. Yarbrough was recalled from Triple-A Durham on Tuesday night.
More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
Updated May 2, 2018