The left-hander tries to win a fourth consecutive start and help the AL wild card-leading Rays extend their season-high winning streak to eight games Tuesday night against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field.
Moore (9-7, 3.73 ERA), who is 4-1 with 1.47 ERA since the All-Star break, has allowed one run and 12 hits and struck out 18 over 17 2-3 innings during his three-game winning streak. He gave up that one run and two hits in six innings of a 7-1 win over Toronto on Thursday."Obviously I'm extremely pleased with where I've come from the beginning of the season," said the 23-year-old Moore, who was 5-6 with a 4.42 ERA in 17 starts prior to the break. "After not putting together too many quality starts, now I'm getting a little more hungry for the eighth or ninth inning, just to see what those are like."
Moore's only blemish over his last five starts came in a 2-1 home loss to Seattle on July 22 when he gave up two runs in eight innings. He's split two career starts against the Mariners, allowing three runs over 13 innings.
Tampa Bay (63-52) has a 2.11 staff ERA while batting .311 and averaging 5.9 runs during its seven-game winning streak. Alex Cobb threw seven strong innings, B.J. Upton hit a two-run homer and Ben Zobrist added three hits in Monday's series opener as the Rays also extended their road winning streak to a season-high six with a 4-1 victory over the Mariners.
Tampa Bay has not won eight in a row overall since stringing together 12 straight victories June 9-22, 2004.
"We've got out work cut out for us, but we're going to try to keep this roll going," said Zobrist, who is hitting .441 (15 for 34) in his last 10 games.
The Rays' latest victory snapped a seven-game home winning streak for Seattle (53-64), which averaged 5.3 runs during that stretch. Tampa Bay has won six of eight in the season series.
Kyle Seager , who had two of the Mariners' five hits Monday, is 12 for 26 (.462) in his last seven games. He's 1 for 5 against Moore.
Kevin Millwood (4-10, 4.38) looks to avoid a third straight losing start when he takes the mound for the Mariners on Tuesday. The right-hander has allowed 11 runs in 10 innings over his last two outings - both on the road. He gave up seven in four innings of Wednesday's 9-2 loss at Baltimore.
"No fun to stink," Millwood said.
The veteran may benefit from a return home, where he is 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA in his last seven starts. He gave up a run over 6 1-3 innings in his most recent outing at Safeco, a 4-3 win over Kansas City on July 28.
Millwood fell to 3-4 with a 5.10 ERA in nine career starts against the Rays after he yielded four runs in 6 1-3 innings of a 4-3 loss at Tampa Bay on May 3.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 05, 2012||Ben Zobrist||Day-to-Day||Left game - upper back spasms|
|July 21, 2012||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
|July 21, 2012||Alex Cobb||Day-to-Day||Left game - right knee contusion|
|July 02, 2012||Hideki Matsui||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|June 30, 2012||Jeremy Hellickson||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised right shin|
|June 29, 2012||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back tightness|
|August 13, 2012||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Hip injury|
|August 06, 2012||Brendan Ryan||Day-to-Day||Left elbow contusion|
|July 18, 2012||Charlie Furbush||15-Day DL||Strained left triceps|
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|July 01, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||15-Day DL||Right elbow flexor strain|
|June 30, 2012||Erasmo Ramirez||Day-to-Day||Left game - leg injury|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Eric Thames had already struck out three straight times when he came to the plate with two outs in the ninth inning to face baseball's most dominant closer.
The Seattle Mariners were all even with the Tampa Bay Rays after Justin Smoak 's sacrifice fly off of Fernando Rodney , who came into the game with a 0.82 ERA and the AL lead in saves. Chone Figgins stood on third, and Thames fell into an 0-2 hole.
Thames took a pitch and then focused on low and away. He was able to flip Rodney's next changeup into short right field to score Figgins, giving the Mariners a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday night that snapped the Rays' seven-game winning streak.
"Casper (Wells) said to me in the seventh inning, `Hey, in the ninth, you'll be the hero, don't worry about it,"' Thames said. "It's crazy how this game works."
Kyle Seager started the winning rally with a single to right field off Rodney, and pinch-hitter Figgins pushed a bunt that first baseman Carlos Pena fielded. Pena glanced at second, pivoted, double-clutched, and then threw wide of first base.
Seager sprinted to third, and Figgins advanced to second. Smoak's deep fly to center field scored Seager to tie the game, and gave Rodney (2-2) his first blown save since May 26 - ending the closer's run of 22 consecutive saves.
"(Carlos) makes that play 100 out of 100 times," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "That was the 101st time, I guess, right there."
Thames' hit into short right field scored Figgins and made a winner of Stephen Pryor (2-0), who worked 1 2-3 innings.
Smoak's contribution to the end of Rodney's streak was as surprising as Pena's error. He found out he was coming back to the majors on Monday when was replaced by a pinch-hitter while playing minor league-ball in Memphis. He flew to Seattle on Tuesday morning and doubled on the first pitch he saw.
Smoak also walked, and both outs he made were on deep fly balls. He was hitting just .189 this year coming into the game.
"I knew something was going to happen tonight where it was going to come up to me at some point in the game," Smoak said. "It's good to come through like that."
Tampa Bay's Matt Moore allowed one run and six hits in seven innings. He struck out nine and walked one. The Rays' staff has the best ERA in the majors since the All-Star break.
Kevin Millwood gave up two runs and eight hits in seven innings for Seattle. He struck out a season-high eight.
Four pitches into the game, Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead. Desmond Jennings singled and B.J. Upton followed with a broken-bat fly ball to left that became a triple when Trayvon Robinson dove but failed to make the catch.
Jennings scored, and Upton had his second triple of the season. Evan Longoria 's sacrifice fly to right scored Upton.
Miguel Olivo followed with a double that drove in Smoak and pulled the Mariners within 2-1 in the second inning.
Moore and Millwood controlled things from there.
Jeff Keppinger doubled to left, and Pena walked with two out in the Rays' fourth. Millwood then fell behind Ryan Roberts 3-0 before coming back to strike him out and end the threat.
Millwood wriggled out of trouble again in the fifth when Jennings and Upton hit consecutive singles. Millwood struck out Matt Joyce and Longoria to end the inning. He struck out Keppinger and Pena in the sixth, setting a season-high with eight strikeouts. Joyce struck out three times.
The Rays pressured Millwood more in the seventh when Roberts and Jose Molina began the inning with singles. Jennings, already 3-for-3, bounced a high grounder toward third base to Seager, who started a double play. Millwood then retired Upton.
NOTES: The Mariners placed 1B Mike Carp on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left groin. ... The Rays have the lowest team ERA, bullpen ERA and opponents' batting average since the All-Star break. ... Tampa Bay also leads the majors in strikeouts (284) since the break. ... The Mariners promoted this year's top draft pick, Mike Zunino, from rookie-level Everett to Double-A Jackson. ... Seager has a hit in eight consecutive home games.