Jeremy Hellickson strong in second start in majors as Rays shut out Tigers

DETROIT -- Jeremy Hellickson is making pitching in the majors look easy.

He and two other Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a four-hitter and the Rays beat the Detroit Tigers 8-0 on Tuesday night.

Hellickson (2-0), making his second major league start and appearance after being recalled Monday night from Triple-A Durham for the second time this month, gave up three hits and struck out seven without walking a batter over seven innings.

"For a kid who has made only two starts, he knows how to pitch," Detroit's Johnny Damon said. "He's in the majors to stay."

Hellickson has a 1.29 ERA, allowed two walks against 13 strikeouts and has given up only six hits in 14 innings in the majors.

Joaquin Benoit pitched the eighth and Mike Ekstrom the ninth.

After allowing Austin Jackson's single to lead off the game, Hellickson retired 18 straight batters and faced the minimum through six innings. Damon flied out after Jackson's hit and Brennan Boesch hit into a double play to end the inning.

"I felt really good," Hellickson said. "As long as I can throw my curveball for a strike, I feel I can be successful."

He struck out six of eight batters during a span from the second through fifth innings.

"His third pitch was his curveball and he dropped it in for strikes," Rays catcher John Jaso said. "And he was getting swings and misses with it."

Hellickson's first two pitches were his fastball and changeup.

Damon's one-out single in the seventh broke Hellickson's streak. Boesch followed with a single, but Hellickson induced Miguel Cabrera to hit into a double play to get out of the jam.

Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said Hellickson always stays calm.

"He's able to control his emotions," Maddon said. "... That's been a big part of his success."

Max Scherzer (7-9), the opposing pitcher when the Rays' Matt Garza no-hit the Tigers in Tampa Bay on July 26, gave up one earned run and four hits in seven innings, walking four and striking out two.

Detroit is 6-21 since the All-Star break. The Tigers are particularly struggling at the plate.

"We're pressing offensively ... hard to believe," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said sarcastically. "It's more like an over-effort. We've just got to get some offense going."

Jackson had two of the Tigers' four hits.

Tampa Bay got its first two runs on Detroit miscues. The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Ryan Raburn bobbled Jason Bartlett's double to left-center field to allow Dan Johnson to score from first with one out.

Scherzer's wild pitch made it 2-0 in the seventh as Johnson, who had walked and advanced on two groundouts, scored from third.

Evan Longoria added an RBI double in the eighth. Jaso hit a run-scoring double, Ben Zobrist a sacrifice fly and Willy Aybar, Johnson and B.J. Upton walked with the bases loaded in the ninth.

Game notes
Maddon talked about using C Jaso as the team's leadoff man. Jaso, the first Rays C to ever bat leadoff, led off for the 19th time on Tuesday night. "He works good at-bats, he gets on base, he's a good baserunner ... he's going to make good reads," Maddon said. ... Maddon said 1B Carlos Pena, on the 15-day DL with a right plantar fascia sprain, looked good during a workout on the field before Tuesday night's game. ... Rays 1B Johnson walked four times. ... Detroit fans gave their largest cheer of the night when reliever Enrique Gonzalez, who threw seven straight balls when he entered the game with the bases loaded in the ninth, threw a strike to Upton on a 3-0 pitch. Gonzalez then walked Upton to force in another run. ... Tigers 3B Brandon Inge was 0 for 3 and is in a 0-for-21 skid.