While Matt Moore turned in superb outing after superb outing last month, cruising through his first start in May might not be as easy.
Moore (5-0, 1.13 ERA) has won all of his starts while posting a major league-leading .121 opponents' batting average against and the second-lowest ERA in the AL.
Moore scattered three hits and struck out nine over six innings of one-run ball in a 10-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday. That followed an eight-inning, one-run, nine-strikeout performance in a 5-1 win over the New York Yankees on April 22.
"He's built on each outing," manager Joe Maddon said. "I know the last game he pitched eight (innings), but he has been just as good and maybe a little bit better."
The left-hander became the sixth pitcher under the age of 24 to go 5-0 in April, joining Fernando Valenzuela , Babe Ruth , Greg Swindell , Dwight Gooden and Dontrelle Willis . Only Valenzuela posted a lower ERA in the month.
"When he gets a feel for his fastball and knows where it's going, heads up, because he really feels good about the other stuff," Maddon told MLB's official website. "Fastball command makes the world go round for a pitcher. It's getting better, and as it gets better, he's going to get even better beyond the numbers you're seeing right now."
Moore could be in for his stiffest test to date against the NL West-leading Rockies (17-11). Besides hitting a league-best .283, Colorado ranks first with 148 runs and is near the top with 36 homers.
The Rockies have been especially tough in Denver, winning nine of 12 while batting .311 with runners in scoring position.
Colorado returns home after dropping three of four to Arizona and taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers , including a 7-3 win Wednesday. Carlos Gonzalez , Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer each had two hits and two RBIs as Colorado overcame a shaky effort from starter Juan Nicasio .
"That's the beauty of having an offense like we have," manager Walt Weiss said. "We can outslug some things. You can't do that all the time, but we have the capability. ... We can hit with anybody."
The Rockies' bullpen has also come up big, allowing three unearned runs and striking out 33 over 30 2-3 innings in the last eight games.
"Our bullpen is throwing the ball really well," Weiss said. "If our starting pitching can give us a chance, with the way our bullpen is throwing and the way our offense can score runs, we're going to win some games."
The Rockies may need another big performance from both with Jeff Francis (1-2, 7.29) set to take the mound. The left-hander had gone 0-2 with a 12.60 ERA over his previous three starts before allowing two runs and four hits in five innings of a 3-2, 10-inning loss at Arizona on Saturday.
Francis has gone 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA in two starts versus Tampa Bay (12-15). While James Loney is 1 for 17 against Francis, he's 22 for 42 with a homer and nine RBIs in his last 14 games.
The Rays dropped back-to-back games at Kansas City before Thursday's series finale was postponed due to weather. They are 4-11 on the road, their poorest such start since opening a franchise-worst 4-28 in 2005.
Tampa Bay is 2-7 at Colorado, last visiting in 2009.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|April 27, 2013||Jose Molina||Day-to-Day||Knee|
|April 25, 2013||Yunel Escobar||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|March 31, 2013||Juan Carlos Oviedo||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 28, 2013||Jeff Niemann||60-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|April 29, 2013||Troy Tulowitzki||Day-to-Day||Strained left shoulder|
|April 20, 2013||Todd Helton||15-Day DL||Left forearm inflammation|
|April 20, 2013||Jhoulys Chacin||15-Day DL||Left lower back strain|
|February 14, 2013||Edwar Cabrera||60-Day DL||Left shoulder impingement|
DENVER (AP) -- For years, Joe Maddon just expected his team to somehow find a way pull out a tight game on the road.
That's what they did and that's what they were known for. So the Tampa Bay manager simply got used to their late-inning theatrics.
This season, the same kind of magic just hasn't been there. Well, until now.
Evan Longoria hit a tiebreaking single in the 10th inning and Kelly Johnson later added a two-run homer, helping the Rays to a 7-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
"That's who we normally are - win late and on the road," Maddon said. "We're breaking in a lot of new guys. We're just not together and in sync yet. But we will be. That's the kind of game I expect our team to win - late, tight, on the road."
Desmond Jennings also had a two-run homer for the Rays, who improved to 3-4 on their road trip after having a game in Kansas City snowed out the day before.
Ben Zobrist led off the 10th with a double to left off reliever Matt Belisle (1-2), setting the stage for Longoria. Johnson provided some insurance by lining his fourth homer of the season just over the wall in right-center.
For that, Johnson can thank the lineup card for inspiration. Written in black marker on the card - scribbled across the names of players - is a saying the Rays have jokingly adopted: Swing for homers and singles will come.
In this case, the reverse held true. Johnson wasn't looking to homer, just put a pitch on a 1-2 count somewhere in play. Johnson was so elated over the homer that he hugged bench coach Dave Martinez .
After all, Martinez encouraged Johnson to swing for the fences.
"Right before going on deck, I said, `Hey, do I need to bunt here if Matt Joyce walks?"' Johnson said. "(Martinez) goes, `Bunt for a hit.' When Joyce popped out he immediately goes, `Just hit a home run."'
Kyle Farnsworth (1-0) earned the win by pitching a perfect ninth and Fernando Rodney picked up his fourth save in five chances, striking out Eric Young Jr. with two on to end the game.
Michael Cuddyer had a two-run homer and Josh Rutledge hit a solo shot as the Rockies started interleague play on the wrong track at home once again. The Rockies were 0-9 against AL teams at Coors Field last season.
Colorado squandered a chance to score with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth. Reliever Jake McGee struck out Young on a 96-mph fastball before handing the ball over to Brandon Gomes , who threw a nasty curve that Jordan Pacheco took for a called third strike.
"We had a few opportunities to win that game but we didn't get the hit," manager Walt Weiss said. "We couldn't get it tonight."
Matt Moore received his first taste of pitching at Coors Field - and it was pretty sour. At least, it was by his standards of late.
Moore lasted five innings and surrendered four runs, matching the total he had given up in his last five starts combined. He also allowed a season-high seven hits in the no-decision.
The Rays lefty had won five straight before Friday, entering the contest with a 1.13 ERA - second-best in the AL - only to see it creep up to 1.95 by the end of the night.
"He did not look comfortable," Maddon said. "But he got us through five. I thought he (did) well without nearly his good stuff."
Moore was at his best when the Rockies had something brewing in the fourth. He walked Jonathan Herrera and starter Jeff Francis to begin the inning. With Moore struggling to find the strike zone, Dexter Fowler put down a bunt to advance the runners.
Only, the speedy Fowler hurt his right hip flexor when he bumped into first baseman Sean Rodriguez in a close play at the bag. Moore then wiggled out of the jam by striking out Pacheco and Carlos Gonzalez .
After the inning, Fowler was replaced in center field by Young.
"It's fine," Fowler said after the game. "It just tightened up on me. I knew it wasn't that serious. I just tweaked it a little bit."
The Rays took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Jennings hit a two-run homer off Francis.
However, Moore couldn't hold it as he surrendered an RBI double to Nolan Arenado in the bottom of the fifth.
Down 3-0 in the third, the Rays finally solved the soft-throwing Francis. Ryan Roberts and Zobrist each had run-scoring doubles.
With All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki out of the starting lineup with soreness in his legs, Cuddyer was bumped up to the cleanup spot. It paid off in the first as he launched a two-run homer to deep center, his sixth of the season.
Lefty David Price will take the mound Saturday for the first time since his run-in with umpire Tom Hallion.
The AL Cy Young Award winner accused Hallion of directing a profanity toward him during the Rays' win over the Chicago White Sox last Sunday. Price thought Hallion missed a pitch and exchanged words with the plate umpire while heading to the dugout after the seventh inning.
Price doesn't expect any repercussions from the crew working the game.
"I don't think umpires hold grudges," Price said.
Notes: Moore had his bid halted to become the fifth AL pitcher since 2008 to begin the season with six wins in six starts. ... It was Longoria's second game-winning RBI of the season and 56th of his career. ... Colorado 1B Todd Helton (forearm strain) and RHP Jhoulys Chacin (back strain) are scheduled to come off the 15-day disabled list on Sunday, with Chacin possibly pitching that day. For now, RHP Tyler Chatwood is scheduled to get the start against the Rays. ... Tulowitzki entered the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth and was intentionally walked.