Moore flirts with no-no as Rays win eighth straight
All-Star southpaw goes 5 2/3 no-hit frames en route to 13th victory
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Moore did everything he needed to do Thursday afternoon while leading the Rays to a 4-3 win en route to his Major League-leading 13th victory this season.
The win completed a four-game sweep of the Twins and extended the Rays' winning streak to eight games as they moved to 53-40 on the season. Tampa Bay is now a Major League-best 39-22 since May 8.
Integral to the Rays' win was waking up on time, as the game started at 12:10 p.m. ET, or 12 hours and 11 minutes after Wednesday night's 13-inning affair concluded.
Due to the short turnaround time, manager Joe Maddon started a different looking lineup, which included substitutes for center fielder Desmond Jennings and shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Sean Rodriguez took Escobar's place and got the Rays' offense started with a one-out single in the third off Mike Pelfrey. Meanwhile, Matt Joyce, who took Jennings' place in the leadoff spot, advanced Rodriguez to second with an infield single. Wil Myers then singled to left to score Rodriguez for the game's first run.
"I said, 'Hey, when they're on a seven-game win streak and we've lost 10 of whatever, that's what happens,'" Pelfrey said. "That's the kind of stuff that just goes their way. It ended up not mattering, because I gave up two homers later, but when things go your way, that's the kind of the stuff that happens."
Given the way Moore was pitching, one run looked like enough.
The 24-year-old left-hander -- who was named to the American League All-Star team shortly after the game -- looked locked in from the beginning and flirted with a no-hitter early in the game. He even seemed to have the requisite luck on his side to do so when he threw a wild pitch to Trevor Plouffe with two outs in the fourth and a runner aboard. Catcher Jose Lobaton retrieved the pitch and threw to first to complete the strikeout while Plouffe remained in the batter's box, mouth agape, believing that he had held his swing. Replays seemed to indicate he did.
But mostly, it was all Moore, who had command of the strike zone as he carved up the Twins' lineup.
"I was able to throw my fastball to both sides of the plate," said Moore, who struck out 10 batters. "And they were swinging. That makes my job a lot easier. It kind of gives you confidence going into that next pitch when they're swinging at strikes."
Brian Dozier finally ended Moore's attempt to join Matt Garza as the only Rays pitchers to throw a no-hitter when he ripped a two-out double down the left-field line in the sixth.
Dozier's hit turned into a run when Jamey Carroll singled to center, tying the score at 1.
The run snapped Moore's scoreless streak at 22 1/3 innings, giving him the fourth-longest scoreless stretch in club history.
"Moore was really good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He had filthy stuff."
Luke Scott and Evan Longoria answered in the bottom half of the sixth with back-to-back home runs, the fifth time the Rays have gone back to back this season.
Scott crushed his seventh home run of the season, which hit the wall beneath the right-field scoreboard. Longoria's 18th blast snapped a 14-game drought in which the Rays slugger had no extra-base hits, the longest dry spell of his career.
Ben Zobrist entered the game with one out in the seventh as a pinch-hitter for Rodriguez, and he promptly delivered a triple to the gap in right-center field. One out later, Myers singled through the middle to put the Rays up 4-1, which proved to be the decisive run.
"It was big for the team. You didn't know it at the time, but it came back and it, obviously, was the winning run," Myers said. "But it was good to be able to come up in that situation and come through."
Minnesota mounted a comeback in the eighth, when Joe Mauer's two-out single off Alex Torres cut the lead to 4-3. With the Twins threatening to score more, Joel Peralta entered the game with runners on first and second and struck out Plouffe to end the threat.
"The scouting report said he's not aggressive with the breaking pitch early in the count, so that was my plan," Peralta said. "Try to get ahead in the count. Throw a first-pitch slider for a strike. He took it like the bullpen coach told me.
"After that, I went to a split that was really bad. Then I made an adjustment -- if a throw goes here, he's going to swing at it, let's see what happens. And he fouled it off. Then after that, because I knew early in the count he is not as aggressive as late in the count, [we] decided to go with the fastball. And he wasn't looking for it, obviously."
Jake McGee retired the Twins in order in the ninth to earn his first Major League save.