DETROIT -- Phil Coke takes losses hard like he's still a late-inning reliever. In that sense, he has not made it an easy slide into the Tigers rotation.
It's tough enough that the no-decisions now hit him hard. When they involve a four-run lead blown into a 7-6 loss to the D-backs Friday night, they hit him particularly tough.
"I'm ashamed of myself for letting that get away the way I did," Coke said.
Wily Mo Pena's go-ahead homer traveled an estimated 454 feet to left field off a David Purcey offspeed pitch, but it might as well have hit Coke in the gut as he watched from the clubhouse. He was long gone from the game, pulled with two outs in the fifth and the Tigers clutching for dear life onto what was a three-run lead going into the inning.
His emotions aren't tough to read when he's on the mound, and given his interviews, they're pretty evident off of it. While fireworks went off on the field in the minutes after Friday's game, Coke's frustration sparked.
"Of course I'm frustrated, man," he said. "I got out there, they give me a lead and I let it slip away. Of course I'm frustrated. I feel terrible. The best way I can describe it right now."
He has not had many leads, which partly explains the emotions. His 11-start winless streak since April 14 includes two outings of more than six scoreless innings, a 3 1/3-inning start shortened by a foot injury in a Tigers victory, and another Tigers win after a blown lead from the bullpen.
He came into Friday's outing with an average of 2.63 runs of support per nine innings, which would rank third-lowest among American League starters if he had enough innings to qualify. He was second to Justin Verlander in earned-run average, opponents' batting average and WHIP ratio on the team, yet last in the rotation in wins.
Friday was just the fourth time all season the Tigers had scored six runs for him, and they scored quickly. He was an out away from qualifying for the victory when three singles and a walk set up his demise.
Pena's eighth-inning homer was actually Arizona's lone extra-base hit of the night, and it was an exclamation point on the comeback. It marked the longest home run ever hit by an opposing player at Comerica Park, topping Chipper Jones' 453-foot drive off the brick wall beyond left-center field in 2004, and the longest by a right-handed hitter in the park's 12-year history.
"I didn't move too much," left fielder Casper Wells said. "I've seen him hit balls like that. ... He's a big guy. You can't leave a ball up to a guy like that. He's a football player out there."
Said Pena: "I don't know how far that one went, but I hit the ball real good. As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it was out."
The only deeper drives at Comerica Park were Carlos Pena's 461-foot launch over the brick wall in right-center near the end of the 2005 season, and Eric Munson's 457-foot walkoff shot off the center-field camera well in 2004. Munson's shot beat the D-backs, so maybe it was fitting that Pena finally enacted some revenge.
To Coke, though, it should've never gotten to that point, not after Jhonny Peralta's two-run double in the opening inning and Wells' two-run homer in the fourth gave him room to pitch.
"I'm very proud of the way we go out there and go about our business," Coke said. "We go out there and we do a good job and I blew a golden opportunity for our team."
Coke retired nine of his first 10 batters before three straight baserunners led off the fourth inning. All of them scored, but Coke managed to escape a jam to leave it at that.
Back to the mound with a 6-3 lead in the fifth, Coke retired Ryan Roberts and Kelly Johnson before Justin Upton got him for his third single in as many at-bats. After he stole second, Coke walked Chris Young.
"Phil just didn't pitch good tonight," manager Jim Leyland said. "He left a lot of balls up."
His demise, though, might well have been on the ground ball he couldn't covert. Miguel Cabrera's dive stopped Stephen Drew's grounder, but Coke seemed to fumble with his footwork as he tried to cover the bag.
"That was huge," Leyland said. "That was a bang-bang play. ... He didn't get over there. You have to get over there. Cabrera made a good play. As it turned out, the way the play developed, the way Coke took the throw was probably a little bit of the difference. He reached back a little bit."
That loaded the bases for Xavier Nady, whose two-run single knocked Coke out of the game. Ryan Perry, just recalled from Triple-A Toledo, put Pena in an 0-2 count before he tried to bury a slider in the dirt. The ball skipped off Alex Avila's forearm and rolled to the Tigers dugout, scoring Drew with the tying run.
"That was my plan, 0-2, but maybe just a little too much [in the dirt]," said Perry, who went on for 2 1/3 solid innings.
The Tigers committed to Coke as a starter before the season started, and they've kept to it. And while Leyland said before the game that he can now foresee long reliever Charlie Furbush as a potential starter someday, he wasn't talking about the near future.
But Leyland and others have also said Coke has to corral his emotions to make it work. Friday didn't help him on that cause.
"I think it absolutely played against me tonight for sure," Coke said. "I'm a very emotional guy on the field. It bothers me that I let it get to me the way that I did because I cost us that."