Bobby Witt gutted his way through a complete game yet didn't have much to show for it.
Dean Palmer hit a home run and an RBI double for Detroit, which won for just the fifth time in 20 games. The Tigers also snapped a three-game losing streak and Tampa Bay's three-game winning streak.
Witt (7-9) hasn't had much luck against Detroit during his career. He's 7-15, including 3-8 at Tiger Stadium, where he's lost six straight decisions since Aug. 20, 1993.
This time he allowed three runs on eight hits in his third complete game of the season.
Witt said the stiffness occurred as he was warming up, "but sometimes you concentrate a little more when that happens."
His only regret was Palmer's 29th homer in the eighth, which gave the Tigers a two-run lead.
"I tried to throw a slider down and away and he just went down and got it," Witt said.
Palmer went deep after making an outstanding play at third to throw out Dave Martinez on a bunt down the line in the top of the eighth.
"I was pretty fired up about that play," Palmer said. "I think it can get you going offensively, too, when you make a good play like that."
Palmer leads the Tigers with 77 RBIs.
"As a team, e're really not producing runs, enough runs to win day in and day out," Palmer said. "I try to put it upon myself to pick up some of the slack when things aren't going good. Sometimes I'm able to do it; other times I'm not. We're still waiting on the time when we do it all as a team."
Mlicki (8-10) won his third straight start, going seven innings and allowing a run on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks. He has won four of his last five decisions for the only victories from a Tigers starter since Brian Moehler beat Boston on July 23.
"I think we're seeing a guy that's getting a chance for a long period of time to keep going out there," Tigers manager Larry Parrish said. "It looks like he's gained confidence from that. He's pitching with more confidence now than he was earlier."
Mlicki didn't allow a runner past first after the Devil Rays scored their lone run in the second.
"Now I'm starting to think about things I need to accomplish right here in the present time instead of worrying about what's going to happen two or three batters ahead," Mlicki said. "I'm concentrating on what I need to do for the inning and worrying about one guy at a time. That's kind of helped me out a bit."
Brad Ausmus and Palmer hit consecutive doubles to put the Tigers ahead in the first, but Tampa Bay tied it in the second when John Flaherty hit a leadoff double and scored on Bobby Smith's two-out single.
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