And for it, they were rewarded.
Jose Lobaton went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, and right-hander Jeremy Hellickson won his fifth game in June to tie a franchise record for victories in a month with as the Rays beat the Tigers 3-1 at Tropicana Field to take two of three in the series.
Things could have gotten heated between the teams after Tigers starter Rick Porcello hit Ben Zobrist with a high fastball on the first pitch he threw to the Rays' second baseman in the first inning. Home plate Umpire Vic Carapazza issued a warning to both benches after the incident.
The pitch to Zobrist likely was retaliation for the high-and-inside pitch Fernando Rodney threw at Miguel Cabrera in the 10th inning of Saturday night's game. After the game, Detroit manager Jim Leyland said, “We will not tolerate that.”
Rays manager Joe Maddon said the Tigers' Jhonny Peralta received the same pitch from Rodney on Sunday and “nobody said a word.” Maddon also said he was “particularly unimpressed with the way Cabrera reacted to the whole moment.”
“Listen, I don't debate it, this guy is outstanding,” Maddon said of Cabrera. “He's wonderful. I just wish he wouldn't cry so much.”
Zobrist, who went hitless, said the pitch to his upper body was no accident.
“Absolutely,” he said. “It was intentional, there's no question about it. I thought the umpires knew it was intentional as well. I thought they should have done something about it, but you know what, they just issued the warnings then and that was the end of it.”
Porcello said he merely lost control of his pitch.
“It just got away from me,” he said.
After watching Zobrist get hit by the pitch, Lobaton said victory would be the ultimate response.
“You just have to keep playing the game,” he said. “Whatever happened, happened. Hopefully we can win, that's the best thing that we can do, just win the game. And we did it.”
Hellickson (7-3) pitched 6-plus innings and allowed six hits, including a home run to Cabrera in the fourth that landed in the Rays Touch Tank in center field, and struck out six.
“Right now, I'm making a big pitch when I need to and I'm getting a lot of help out there,” Hellickson said.
Detroit loaded the bases on Hellickson in the top of the seventh, but after a pitching change, lefty Jake McGee came in and left them all stranded with some support from the defense.
“It was really neat today,” McGee said. “It kind of gives you goose bumps. We're up three runs, bases loaded, no one out and you get out of it, especially with (Austin) Jackson and Torii Hunter up there.”
Lobaton gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single that scored James Loney.
In the bottom of the fourth with the score 1-1, the Rays loaded the bases with one out on consecutive singles by Wil Myers, Luke Scott and Kelly Johnson. Lobaton singled home Myers and Scott scored on a bases-loaded walk to Yunel Escobar.
“That's what I want every time I'm playing,” Lobaton said. “I wish I could play everyday and hit 3-for-3, but (Hellickson) has been doing better the past two games, throwing really good, and hopefully next time I can get three hits again and win the game.”
Rodney, the winning pitcher in Saturday night's game, pitched a scoreless ninth, including two strikeouts, to earn his 17th save.