"Interesting ballgame to say the least," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "A lot of back-and-forth."
The Tigers trailed 5-1 after four innings before scoring three times in the fifth and sixth to take a 7-5 lead. The Rays were able to get one back in the seventh to narrow the lead to one run, and Austin Pruitt came through with 3 1/3 scoreless innings of relief to keep the Tigers in check and make the comeback possible.
Kiermaier led off the ninth inning with a walk, and Evan Longoria doubled to right on the second pitch he saw to put runners at second and third with no outs. Bourjos pinch-ran for Longoria before the Tigers intentionally walked Brad Miller to load the bases for Steven Souza Jr. Souza tried to check his final swing, but it was ruled strike three.
That prompted Cash to leave the dugout to argue the call. He was ejected before Morrison hit into a fielder's choice that sparked the winning play.
Crazy sixth: Trailing 5-4, the Tigers had runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth when JaCoby Jones popped up a sacrifice bunt attempt. Longoria, the Rays third baseman, wisely let the ball hit the ground then threw to Tim Beckham covering second. The Rays shortstop stepped on the bag and threw to first. Miller, who was covering first, stretched and fell to his right but came up with the ball and completed the 5-6-3 double-play.
Then the worm turned. Jumbo Diaz took over for Danny Farquhar and walked the bases ful to set the stage for Castellanos, who drove a ball to right-center field. Kiermaier dove for the ball, but the Rays Gold Glove-winning center fielder came up empty. The ball rolled to the wall, leaving Castellanos on third and the Tigers with a two-run lead.
Pruitt fends off Tigers rally: Pruitt entered with two outs in the sixth. After Castellanos' triple put the Tigers up 7-6, Diaz intentionally walked Cabrera and handed the ball to Pruitt, who struck out Martinez on five pitches to knock the wind from the Tigers' sails.
It was the start of something big for Pruitt, who would go on to earn the win after closing out the game. He faced the minimum 10 Tigers in his 3 1/3 innings and struck out five. Pruitt allowed just one hit along the way -- a one-out single to Cabrera in the ninth -- but coaxed Martinez into a ground out on the next play to set the stage for the Rays in the bottom half of the frame.
"I was incorrect, and after looking at it, [first-base umpire] Larry [Vanover] got the call right. 8230; He got the call right and I was wrong."
-- Cash, on his ejection.
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Cabrera's double in the top of the fifth was the 525th of his career, tying him with Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams for 44th all-time.
The Tigers challenged a call at first base after a bunt from Jones led to a 5-6-3 double play in the top of the sixth inning. The play stood after review.
Tigers: Daniel Norris (1-0, 2.19 ERA) will take the hill for his third start of the season when the Tigers attempt to avoid a sweep at the hands of the Rays in a 1:10 p.m. ET contest at Tropicana Field. Norris is coming off a six-inning scoreless performance against the Indians in which he allowed just two hits and struck out five. The Tigers will again be without outfielder Justin Upton, who is day to day with a right-wrist contusion.
Rays: Erasmo Ramirez (1-0, 3.72) will make his first start of the season as he takes Jake Odorizzi's place in the rotation while Odorizzi recovers from a left-hamstring strain. He'll likely be limited to 75 pitches.
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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.