Rays use early offense to down Indians
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Carlos Pena hit a two-run homer in an early Tampa Bay attack, and the Rays used a solid combined pitching performance from Matt Moore and the bullpen to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 4-2.
Luke Scott added an RBI triple -- his first since 2010 -- in the three-run first inning, and Moore (6-6) allowed two runs on three hits and five walks in five-plus laborious innings for the Rays, who improved to only 7-15 against what many view as a weak AL Central.
"He's got a great arm, he's a great kid and will keep getting better," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Moore. "He got a win tonight, not bad for a 23- year-old."
The AL Central has been the Rays' weak point this season, having a 21-17 record against AL East foes and a 10-3 mark against the AL West. On Tuesday, however, Moore and four others were able to hold off Cleveland.
Fernando Rodney earned his league-leading 27th save with a scoreless ninth, but it didn't come without a bit of luck, as Shelley Duncan lined a pitch right back to the mound en route to a double play after a leadoff hit batsman.
Casey Kotchman kept the game alive for Cleveland with a single through the middle, but pinch-hitter Travis Hafner flied out weakly to right to end the game.
Jose Lopez and Jason Kipnis drove in a run apiece for the Indians, who lost for the third time in four games after Josh Tomlin's shaky start. Tomlin (5-6) yielded four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, the sixth time in nine starts he's allowed at least four runs.
"He had below average stuff and pitched behind and got hurt by the first three guys. After that he did a tremendous job and gave us a very good outing," Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Tomlin's first innings this season have killed him, and Tuesday was no different. He came into the game having allowed 14 runs in 13 opening frames, and he added three more to the ledger in this game.
B.J. Upton sent a single to left to begin the Rays' attack, and Pena followed by hammering a fastball down the middle into the seats in right for a quick 2-0 lead.
Ben Zobrist followed with a walk, though the next two hitters were retired. Scott tacked on another run with a line drive triple down the line in right that gave Shin-Soo Choo some trouble in the corner, scoring Zobrist without a play.
Moore kept the Indians hitless through three innings, but lost his control in the fourth.
Asdrubal Cabrera opened the fourth inning with a single, and Moore walked the next two hitters to load the bases with nobody out. A day after the Indians managed no runs with a similar situation, they scored only one on Lopez's sacrifice fly before Carlos Santana struck out and Duncan flied out to end the threat.
Moore's control issues persisted in the fifth, walking Lou Marson with one out. Marson moved to second on Choo's single and scored on Kipnis' base hit to cut the Indians' deficit to one.
Michael Brantley worked another walk -- his fifth in two games -- to load the bases, but Lopez flied out to left to squander another opportunity.
Tampa Bay added an insurance run in the sixth on Jose Lobaton's two-out single, ending Tomlin's outing, but the Rays' bullpen was nearly perfect in holding off the Indians.
After Moore walked Santana leading off the sixth, Wade Davis came in and induced a double play and got out of the inning without a hiccup. Davis, Joel Peralta and Burke Badenhop combined to pitch a perfect seventh and eighth before Rodney finished the contest.
Tomlin has allowed more runs in the first than any other inning ... Scott now has 18 career triples in 767 games ... The season series is tied, 3-3.