ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Rick Porcello silenced Tampa Bay’s bats with an outstanding sinker.

Porcello allowed four hits in seven shutout innings, Austin Jackson hit a three-run homer and the Detroit Tigers beat the Rays 6-2 on Saturday night.

“That’s probably one of his better outings,” Tigers catcher Alex Avila said. “Oh man, he had a tremendous sinker.”

Porcello (6-5) struck out four in winning for the third time in four starts.

“It’s good to get on a little bit of a roll, but I want to keep it going,” Porcello said.

Jackson put the Tigers up 4-0 with his eighth homer in the eighth off Joel Peralta, who returned after serving an eight-game suspension for having pine tar on his glove.

“A three-run homer is nice,” Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. “That came at a big time.”

After Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit gave up solo homers to pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Pena in the eighth, Jhonny Peralta gave Detroit a 6-2 lead with a two-run single in the ninth.

Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson (4-4) left in the third after being struck in the lower right leg by Prince Fielder’s liner. The Rays said Hellickson, who missed his previous two starts because of right shoulder inflammation, has a bruised shin and X-rays were negative.

“It didn’t get bone, but it hurt,” Hellickson said. “I tried to stay in, but it just went numb on me. I couldn’t feel anything.”

Both Hellickson and Rays manager Joe Maddon think the right-hander will be able to make his next start.

Hellickson fell to the ground after being hit by Fielder’s bases-loaded shot, which ricocheted to Pena at first base. Fielder was retired by Pena on the play in which Jackson scored to make it 1-0.

“It was scary,” Leyland said.

After being checked by a team trainer and making a couple warmup tosses, Hellickson departed and was replaced by J.P. Howell.

“Because it’s hurting, you’re not going to use your bottom half and now it’s all shoulder,” Maddon said. “That was his (previous) problem, so I didn’t want to mess with it.”

Elliot Johnson’s third-inning bunt single was the Rays’ only hit off Porcello until Will Rhymes, Desmond Jennings and Pena, who had an infield hit just in front of the plate, had consecutive singles to load the bases with one out in the sixth. The Tigers starter worked out of trouble by retiring B.J. Upton on a pop fly and getting a grounder from Luke Scott.

“He just made great pitches, just got out of the inning and that’s pretty much the ballgame as it turned out,” Leyland said, “We’re really tickled with him right now.”

Rays right-hander Kyle Farnsworth, out all season with a strained right elbow, pitched a scoreless seventh.

Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera went 3 for 3 with two walks. The slugger has 68 hits in 196 at-bats over his last 48 games.

Notes: Rays LHP David Price, tied for the AL wins lead with 11, felt fine one day after leaving his latest start after seven innings because of lower back tightness. Price expects to make his next scheduled start. … Leyland thinks he has as many as five players who are solid candidates to be selected to the AL All-Star team — Fielder, Cabrera, Benoit and Jackson and Justin Verlander. … On Turn Back the Clock Night, Tampa Bay, a 1998 expansion team, wore hypothetical uniforms from 1979. The Tigers dressed in replicas of their 1979 uniforms.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.