ST. PETERSBURG -- Jacoby Ellsbury stared down at the perfectly framed mitt of Hank Conger. The man who had thrown the pitch, Matt Moore, had already started his walk off the mound, and Ellsbury dropped his bat to the ground as his strikeout ended the frame.Moore had just finished his
ST. PETERSBURG -- Jacoby Ellsbury stared down at the perfectly framed mitt of Hank Conger. The man who had thrown the pitch, Matt Moore, had already started his walk off the mound, and Ellsbury dropped his bat to the ground as his strikeout ended the frame.
Moore had just finished his fifth inning of work -- a threshold he hadn't passed in his past four outings. But this time, he wasn't done. Moore pitched 6 2/3 innings of Tampa Bay's 9-5 win over the Yankees on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field, allowing three runs. His fastball had good command, and he used his curveball as his secondary pitch.
"I liked my mindset heading into it," Moore said. "I found out what pitches were coming out good, and I kind of stayed with that as opposed to just forcing them out."
Yanks starter Michael Pineda allowed six runs over just 3 2/3 innings, the second start against Tampa Bay this year that ended early for the righty.
The Rays' offense broke out in a big way to even the series. Evan Longoria was 2-for-3 with a homer and four RBIs. The light-hitting Conger also homered and hit two doubles while driving in three runs, and Brad Miller had a double and a triple.
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The Yankees threatened with two runs in the seventh and eighth, after Longoria and Carlos Beltran had been pulled. But Enny Romero entered and struck out Alex Rodriguez swinging to end the bases-loaded threat in the seventh, and Xavier Cedeno coaxed a groundout from Aaron Hicks to end a threat in the eighth.
With the win, the Rays improved to 2-3 against New York on the season.
"I know at the end of the game it got a little sloppy, too many guys on base," manager Kevin Cash said. "But at the end of the day, we came out with a win. And that's first and foremost what we needed."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Homerin' Hank: Conger had three RBIs in his first 59 at-bats this season. Then with one swing in the fifth inning, he doubled that. He hit a towering three-run homer off Luis Cessa to put the Rays up, 9-1, and the game out of reach. More >
Big Mike still searching: The Yankees thought they saw signs of progress in Pineda's last start, but that was quickly undone as the Rays peppered him for six runs and nine hits in just 3 2/3 innings. It was the fifth time this season that Pineda has permitted five or more earned runs in an outing, and his 6.92 ERA is the worst among all qualified big league pitchers.
"It's very frustrating for me to start the season this way," Pineda said. "It has never happened to me before. I'm putting the team in a tough spot, but I have to keep working hard, keep my head up and get the job done." More >
Gimme Moore: Moore hadn't been on the mound for a win since April 17, a streak of six straight Rays losses. But his performance on Saturday assured that would change. The hard-throwing lefty struck out seven batters and walked off to a standing ovation from the Rays fans at the Trop.
"Moore provided a really good start that obviously we've been missing a little bit," Cash said. "It was great to see him get through that first inning, which had the makings of getting a little tricky. … It's a little easier to get some runs when you get the support they did."
Two-and-a-half grand: Beltran became the 99th player all time -- and just the fourth born in Puerto Rico -- to reach 2,500 hits with his fourth-inning home run off Moore. It was Beltran's 12th homer of the season and the 404th of his career. The other players with 2,500 hits who were born in Puerto Rico are Roberto Clemente, Ivan Rodriguez and Roberto Alomar.
"It means a lot, and I think it's a great accomplishment, but right now we're trying to win ballgames. That's the main focus," Beltran said. "I thank God that he's allowed me to play this game for a long time and I've been able to accomplish good things, but it would have been greater if we would have won this one." More >
"I think the celebration was kind of a knock on how long it's took. You know, it felt good." -- Conger, after his breakout game. He was one of the last to enter the clubhouse, but once he did, a loud uproar could be heard from outside walls.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Conger threw out a baserunner in the second inning on a play that was reversed on a Rays challenge. It was just the second runner he's thrown out in his past 53 attempts, dating back to last season. His three extra-base hits were also the most of his career.
The Rays successfully challenged a call at second base in the second inning, as Chase Headley was initially ruled safe on a stolen base attempt. A review of 1 minute and 11 seconds determined that Headley came off the bag while being tagged by shortstop Miller, overturning the call on the field.
Yankees:Nathan Eovaldi (5-2, 3.95 ERA) will try to continue his winning ways on Sunday as the Yankees wrap up their three-game series at Tropicana Field at 1:10 p.m. ET. Eovaldi is 5-0 with a 2.92 ERA over his past six starts, the longest winning streak by a Yankees pitcher this year.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (2-2, 3.46 ERA) will look to build off his five scoreless innings in Miami on Tuesday when he faces the Yankees to end the Rays' five-game homestand. Odorizzi's 5.06 career ERA against the Yankees is his worst against any opponent (minumum four starts).
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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.