BOSTON – Matt Moore keeps struggling when he warms up in the bullpen before the game. Then he dominates when he gets out to the mound.
Joe Maddon is eager to see the trend continue.
Maybe we’ll kick him in the shins before he goes out, the Tampa Bay manager said after Moore pitched his first career shutout, a two-hitter to beat the Boston Red Sox 3-0 on Monday night and give the Rays their sixth consecutive win.
Ben Zobrist had three hits and James Loney drove in two runs for the Rays, who have lost just twice in 20 games since June 28. In the last month, the Rays have improved from last place to one-half game behind Boston in the AL East.
I really believed we were going to get back into it, Maddon said. I didn’t know when.
In his first start since pitching a scoreless fifth inning in the All-Star game, Moore (14-3) gave up Mike Napoli’s single in the second and David Ortiz’s base-hit in the seventh. Ortiz took second on a wild pitch – the only baserunner to get past first.
That was impressive to watch, Red Sox starter Brandon Workman said.
Moore walked one batter, struck out four and needed just 109 pitches – just three of them were non-competitive, pitching coach Jim Hickey said – for his first career complete game and his sixth win in a row. He needed just six pitches to get through the sixth inning.
I think that’s the most efficient I’ve been, Moore said. I think that’s probably the best game I’ve ever thrown (considering) the Red Sox are playing well, and we’re on the road.
Moore said he struggled in the bullpen trying to warm up before the game – just as he did at Citi Field for last week’s All-Star game.
Workman (0-1) made his second career start, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out four in six innings.
Overall, a very well-pitched game on both sides. But Matt Moore was the story of the night, Red Sox manager John Farrell said. We really didn’t have a chance to get anything going.
RANGERS 3, YANKEES 0: In Arlington, Texas, Yu Darvish allowed two singles over 6 1/3 innings in his first start in 16 days, combining with three relievers on a three-hitter.
BRAVES 2, METS 1: In New York, Jason Heyward made a diving catch with runners on first and second and two outs in the ninth inning after pinch-hitter Reed Johnson hit a go-ahead single with two outs in a two-run top half in Atlanta’s comeback win.
PIRATES 6, NATIONALS 5: In Washington, Andrew McCutchen hit a pair of two-run homers to back a solid outing by right-hander Charlie Morton.
PADRES 5, BREWERS 3: In Milwaukee, Jesus Guzman homered and had three RBI to lead San Diego, hours after Milwaukee learned that Ryan Braun would be suspended for the rest of the season.
DODGERS 14, BLUE JAYS 5: In Toronto, A.J. Ellis hit a two-run homer and drove in a career-best five runs, Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched 5 1/3 innings, and Los Angeles won its fourth straight and 21st in 26 games.