Moore gets work, but O's offense awakens
After limiting Orioles in two games, Tampa Bay drops series finale
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Moore is in a funk.
The Rays left-hander never got out of the gate Sunday as the Orioles jumped on him early and often, paving the way for a 10-7 Baltimore win at Tropicana Field.
"I feel like it's been a little while since this has happened, how hard they were hitting the baseball; I mean, they were on the barrel," Moore said.
In defeat, the Rays fell to 34-28 on the season and back into fourth place in the American League East despite winning the series.
"It's nice to win one game," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "We would've liked to win more, but coming into today, we only had the opportunity to win this one, and we were able to get it. It's a big game, and you never want to drop three when you go into someone else's place."
Moore's troubles actually began Tuesday, when he carried an 8-0 mark into Comerica Park and lasted just two innings against the Tigers. Sunday, the results appeared to be more of the same as the Orioles used six doubles and a 432-foot home run by Adam Jones to score two in the first, three in the second, three in the third and one in the fourth.
"That's really where the irritation kicks in," Moore said. "Two runs in the first, our guys have that. Five runs, it's a whole new ballgame, especially against a guy like [Baltimore starter Chris] Tillman. ... It's irritating and something I can't let continue to happen."
To Moore's credit, he did manage to give the Rays 100 pitches, which got him through the fifth and helped save the bullpen a few innings heading into the series with the first-place Red Sox that begins Monday night at Tropicana Field.
Moore's final line showed eight earned runs on 12 hits, a walk and six strikeouts en route to his second loss of the season. Additional indicators of his struggles were delivered via his two wild pitches and a hit batter. In Moore's past two starts, he has seen his ERA jump from 2.18 to 3.78.
While Sunday's woes against the Orioles seemed eerily similar to what Moore experienced in Detroit, Moore did not see it quite the same.
"In Detroit I gave up [seven] hits, but I didn't feel as many of those were barrel-finders," Moore said. "They weren't gap-seeking missiles. ... I think that when you get beat like I did in Detroit, that's what hurts most because you know you didn't give your team a chance to win. Tonight, it was a legitimate beatdown. They definitely found the barrel a lot."
Of the 100 pitches Moore threw, 71 were for strikes.
"I think he threw a lot of strikes, and we were going to go out there and try to get something up that we could hit a little bit early," Wieters said. "I think for the most part some of his changeups were left up, and that's probably the one difference this start from some of his starts in the past. Jonesy had a couple great swings, J.J. [Hardy] had some great swings and we were able to get some guys on base, which was huge."
Tampa Bay did manage to make the late going mildly interesting when Sam Fuld hit a two-run homer off Brian Matusz in the eighth, Fuld's first home run since May 27, 2011. Luke Scott added an RBI single with two outs to cut the lead to 10-6 and chase Matusz. Tommy Hunter took over and struck out Desmond Jennings with two aboard to end the threat.
Jose Lobaton drove in another run in the ninth to cut the lead to 10-7. When Kelly Johnson batted with two on and two out, he represented the tying run, but Jim Johnson got him to pop out to end the game.
"Our guys did an outstanding job, and it went down to the last pitch," Moore said. "You never would have thought that coming out of the third inning."
Rays manager Joe Maddon said he was pleased that the Rays won the series, and he appeared proud of the comeback that was attempted.
"I love the fact that we kept battling back," Maddon said. "Just came down to the fact that Matt did not have a very good day."