Pham, Choi Strong, But Rays Drop Contest To Tigers

LAKELAND (WDAE) -- Tommy Pham and Ji-Man Choi combined for five hits, including a pair of homers, but the Tampa Bay Rays couldn't hold on to a 7-5 sixth inning lead, falling to the Detroit Tigers 8-7 at Joker Marchant Stadium.

After Detroit jumped on Charlie Morton for four unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, Tampa Bay got on the scoreboard in the third, as Joey Wendle led off with a base hit off Tigers starter Jordan Zimmermann, and Pham followed with a blast in to the visiting bullpen, his first home run of the spring. Choi followed with a blast on to the berm in left-center, his second of the Grapefruit League, to cut the Tigers lead to a single run.

Miguel Cabrera gave Detroit a 5-3 lead with a solo homer to start the third, but Choi's RBI double in the fifth cut the deficit back to 5-4.

The Rays took the lead in the sixth, as Kevin Kiermaier started with a triple and Michael Perez scored pinch-runner Josh Lowe with a base hit to tie the game. Emilio Bonifacio drew a walk and three batters later, Jason Coats doubled to bring in both runners for a 7-5 lead.

Josh Lester made it 7-6 in the home seventh with a solo blast off Ricardo Pinto, and after putting up a scoreless eighth, Luis Santos loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth before Cameron Rupp's two-run double finished the game.

Tampa Bay will play the first game ever at CoolToday Park in North Port Sunday, taking on the Atlanta Braves. Tyler Glasnow will get the start, taking on Kevin Gausman. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 2:30 with The Inside Pitch.

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