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Jennings homers twice off Verlander in Rays' win

Detroit Tigers' Quintin Berry, left, scores on a single by Delmon Young as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton, right, fields the wide throw during the third inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Thursday, June 28, 2012. Detroit Tigers' Quintin Berry, left, scores on a single by Delmon Young as Tampa Bay Rays catcher Jose Lobaton, right, fields the wide throw during the third inning of a baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., Thursday, June 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
By Fred Goodall
AP Sports Writer / June 29, 2012
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings homered twice and David Price outpitched Justin Verlander to become the AL's first 11-game winner with a 4-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Friday night.

The Rays beat the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner for the second time this season, ending a four-game skid in which they played sloppy defense and struggled to score.

Price (11-4) allowed two runs and five hits before leaving the game because of what the Rays described as lower back tightness after seven innings. The hard-throwing lefty threw 78 pitches, struck out seven and walked one.

Price has won three straight decisions and five of six overall with the loss coming when the Rays were one-hit by R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets on June 13.

Jennings hadn't homered in over two months, yet went deep against Verlander (8-5) leading off the third and fifth innings. Ben Zobrist hit a solo homer off the Tigers starter, who struck out eight and walked one while throwing 120 pitches and allowing four runs and six hits over six innings.

Delmon Young hit a solo homer in the fifth and had two of Detroit's hits off Price. Prince Fielder drove in the Tigers' other run when he grounded out in the seventh.

The Rays were outscored 26-8 during a losing streak that matched their longest of the season. Even more troubling has been that they have hurt themselves lately with uncharacteristic mistakes, especially on defense.

Jennings led a stellar defensive effort Friday night, making a nice running catch while falling into the stands in left field in the third inning. The Rays turned three double plays in support of Price, who was removed after going out to the mound to warm up for the eighth.

Jake McGee worked the eighth for the Rays. Fernando Rodney finished up, earning his 22nd save in 23 opportunities.

Despite walking Ramon Santiago in the first and yielding singles to Young in the second and Austin Jackson in the fourth, Price faced the minimum 12 batters over the first four innings -- thanks to two inning-ending double plays and Jackson being thrown out attempting to steal second base.

Verlander, meanwhile, allowed three homers in a game for the first time this season. The New York Yankees went deep on the Tigers ace twice in beating him on April 27 and June 3, meaning that seven of the 10 homers Verlander has allowed this season have come in the four starts he has made against those teams.

Notes: The first 10,000 fans entering the park received Zim Bear dolls bearing the likeness of Rays senior advisor Don Zimmer. The promotion was so popular that the team has ordered 10,000 more dolls and plan to give them away at a future game. ... The Rays were one of the best defensive teams in baseball in making the playoffs three of the past four seasons, however they haven't been nearly as sharp this season. They have already committed 66 errors after having a major league-low 73 last year. They have had 18 multi-error games this year compared to 11 in 2011. ... Tigers manager Jim Leyland said OF Andy Dirks (right Achilles tendinitis) was not cleared to resume baseball activities after being re-examined Friday. ... Rays RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right shoulder inflammation) is set to come off the 15-day DL and start Saturday night. The Tigers will counter with RHP Rick Porcello. Hellickson, the 2011 AL rookie of the year, missed two starts while on the DL.

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