ST. PETERSBURG -- Viewing Tuesday's game as a singular event, the Rays are happy to see Alex Cobb persevere and earn a win in a night filled with suspect defense behind him. The team is more pleased with the continuation of Cobb's most recent trend, in which the right-hander has started looking much more like his pre-surgery self.
In holding the Reds to two runs over seven innings, Cobb made it three straight starts of six-plus innings and two or fewer earned runs after a 6-5 win over the Reds. He last achieved such a streak in late 2014, before he underwent Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2015.
Even more thrilling for the Rays is the way in which Cobb has kept hitters at bay recently. He threw his changeup 25 times Tuesday, up from the average of 20 times he threw it in his four previous games. Two of the six Reds Cobb struck out went down on his split-change.
"I'm so happy for him," catcher Jesus Sucre said. "He always talks about that changeup, and finally he's starting to get it back. He had a bunch of starts where he only threw fastball-curveball. Now he gets to have that changeup. It'll really help him out a lot."
Cobb also has seven quality starts in his last 10 outings after producing none in his first five. This one was not easy to secure, given that he had to overcome a few extra baserunners.
Adam Duvall lofted a fly ball to left-center field that fell between Peter Bourjos and Corey Dickerson, despite a 9 percent hit probability. Bourjos lost track of the ball against the roof and couldn't call to Dickerson in time to bail him out. Duvall came away with a triple and scored on a single to put the Reds up 2-0 in the third.
"He gave up the run early, it appeared that we misplayed a ball that forced in another one, but he did a nice job of kind of controlling his emotions, controlling himself to not let it get out of hand there," manager Kevin Cash said.
Jose Peraza reached on a close play in the fourth that the Rays challenged and lost. He got to third on a passed ball, but would be thrown out at the plate on a fielder's choice. A Tucker Barnhart double later kicked off Dickerson's glove in the sixth, but Cobb held him at second.
"You're going to take every win, but we have to start cleaning it up, simple as that," Cash said. "We play in the dome, make the adjustment."
The Rays broke out with a pair of three-run innings, spotting Cobb a 6-2 lead to work with heading into the fifth. Cobb was grateful for the chance to practice his changeup as he continues his post-surgery attempt to return the pitch to being as consistent as his fastball and curveball, he said.
"To get that, I just have to keep throwing it, and hopefully find some situations throughout the game where I can work on it and try to get that feel to where I can go to it like I used to when it was my best pitch," Cobb said.