ST. PETERSBURG — In the back of RHP Erasmo Ramirez's mind Thursday was the need to pitch deep into the game against the Tigers to help save an overworked bullpen.
"I've been there, so I know how tough it is to pitch back-to-back (games), even for one inning, so if I can save one inning or one batter, that's big for the bullpen," said Ramirez, starting in place of RHP Jake Odorizzi (left hamstring strain). "I've been there. I know how that feels."
Ramirez, making his first start since April 16, 2016, pitched five innings and earned the win in the 8-1 victory that completed a three-game sweep.
He allowed a homer to Ian Kinsler on the third pitch of the game, then retired the next 11.
"He did a nice job and really kind of stymied our bats for five innings," Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. "We couldn't get anything going."
Ramirez, who allowed two hits and struck out five, is now 13-6 with a 3.33 ERA in 29 starts as a Ray.
RHP Chase Whitley pitched three innings, and RHP Tommy Hunter worked the ninth.
"How fortunate for us to have that coverage for when a guy like Jake goes down, to be able to piece it together with those two guys," manager Kevin Cash said of Ramirez and Whitley.
The Trop crowd? Really?
Tigers manager Brad Ausmus reiterated Thursday that a misplay in the outfield during Wednesday's game, where a ball dropped between CF JaCoby Jones, 2B Ian Kinsler and RF Tyler Collins was due to a fan in the stands at the Trop.
Ausmus said the fan yelled "I got it," which led to Kinsler and the outfielders backing off on the third-inning ball hit by Brad Miller that dropped in for a single.
"The acoustics helped … and the fact that there were not a huge number of people sitting in stands," Ausmus said.
Not that there is necessarily anything wrong with yelling that, like when Alex Rodriguez did it during a game in Toronto in 2007.
"Never heard of a fan doing it," Ausmus said. "I'm not blaming the fan, he's within his rights. … We have to make the adjustment."
But he did make it clear he felt the rather, um, intimate setting at the Trop, with an announced crowd of 12,281, contributed.
"Most of the time when you have a decent size crowd, it's all kind of white noise, all the noise kind of mixes together and nothing really stands out," Ausmus said.
When asked for his reaction to Ausmus' comments, Rays manager Kevin Cash said, "We want to make homefield an advantage, so if that's an advantage, so be it."
Going, going, gone
Waiting for rookie Daniel Robertson after Thursday's game were a slew of texts, including this one from his buddy, Don Sullivan, congratulating Robertson on his first big-league home run: Only 499 more to go.
"Geez, I'd like to get two," Robertson said. "Focus on the next one first and we'll go from there."
The homer came in the eighth off RHP Warwick Saupold and traveled 396 feet to left-center.
"When you don't feel it off the bat that's a good thing," Robertson said. "I hit it pretty well."
Number of the day
6 Game home winning streak for Rays, their longest since they won six straight at the Trop between April 22-May 1, 2015.
. OF Colby Rasmus (hip surgery) is scheduled to resume his minor-league rehab Saturday at Double-A Montgomery. A date for his return has not been set, but it's reasonable to believe he will join the team next weekend for the series in Toronto.
. RF Steven Souza Jr. fell a single short of hitting for the cycle Thursday. He has reached base at least twice in a game 12 times this season.
. CF Kevin Kiermaier, who homered for the first time this season, has multiple hits in four of his past five games.
. Both teams will wear No. 42 tonight as part of Jackie Robinson Day.
Times staff writer Marc Topkin contributed to this report.