ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Detroit has been able to count on Anibal Sanchez to regularly get a win since early June. However, former Tigers minor leaguer Curt Casali helped end Sanchez's winning stretch.
Casali homered twice to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 victory over the Tigers on Monday night. It was Detroit's seventh loss in 10 games, and Sanchez's first defeat since June 3.
"Sanchy didn't have his best stuff, but he battled through and still kept us in the ball game and gave us a chance to win," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We didn't do a whole lot offensively, but we came within one late in the eighth, but unfortunately (Casali's) two-run homer kind put the nail in the coffin."
Sanchez gave up three runs, eight hits and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
"He was pretty wild today, a lot of 3-2 counts," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. "Behind a hit a lot of hitters, but he battled to keep us in the game. He clearly didn't have his best stuff or best command, but figured out a way to give us some strong innings."
Casali's first homer came on the first pitch of the third inning by Sanchez, who had won seven straight decisions, the longest streak by any American League pitcher this season. Casali, who was traded for left-hander Kyle Lobstein just before the start o the 2013 season, added a towering two-run homer off the B-ring catwalk, his fifth of the season, off Bruce Rondon in the eighth.
It is believed to be the first home run hit off the B-ring catwalk since Frank Thomas hit one for the Chicago White Sox on April 4, 1998, in the fifth game ever played at Tropicana Field.
"Anything I can do to help," said Casali, who added a single to the first multi-homer game of his career. "We're struggling. We've just got to keep building on this type of night because they haven't happened as frequently as we want."
Nathan Karns took a one-hit shutout into the seventh inning for the Rays, who had gone 13 straight games without scoring more than four runs, tied for the longest such streak in the majors this season.
Karns (6-5) gave up three hits and no walks in six-plus innings, winning six days after a 1-0 victory at Philadelphia in which he hit a home run.
Cespedes drove in Detroit's second run with a two-out single in the eighth, ending Jake McGee's streak of 21 straight scoreless relief appearances.
Brad Boxberger pitched the ninth for his 25th save.
Kiermaier left the game in the sixth inning with an abrasion of his left eye.
Tigers: Manager Brad Ausmus is optimistic that 1B Miguel Cabrera's recovery from a left calf strain "will be on the short side" of the six-to-eight week estimates ... LHP Kyle Lobstein (shoulder) threw batting practice and is close to starting a rehab assignment.
Rays: SS Asdrubal Cabrera (strained right hamstring) was activated after the game, and IF Jake Elmore was optioned to Triple-A Durham. ... LHP Drew Smyly (torn left labrum) is scheduled for a second rehab start Friday night and said he believes he is on "the back side" of his recovery.
LHP David Price (9-3, 2.31), who won 82 games in six seasons and the 2012 Cy Young Award for the Rays before being traded to Detroit last July, will face his former team for the second time Tuesday night. RHP Jake Odorizzi (5-6, 2.85) will pitch for Tampa Bay.
After a Sunday night game in Boston, the Tigers arrived at their hotel at 5 a.m. on Monday. "It's not an ideal travel scenario, but we've been there before. You can't lean on that," said Ausmus, who said he managed to get about six hours of sleep.