Matt Moore has been having some control issues, but what's more important is that he's back in the win column.
In part due to his 8-0 start, Moore (10-3, 3.95 ERA) is already one victory shy of a career high. However, his 4.98 walks per nine innings rank last in the AL. Moore worked around a career high-tying six free passes in Tuesday's 5-1 victory over Toronto, throwing six innings of one-run ball.
He's won back-to-back starts after losing his previous three."Any time where there's six walks and I can get through the sixth inning, it's a pretty unusual thing to happen," Moore said after matching a career best with 11 strikeouts.
Manager Joe Maddon would obviously like Moore to cut down on his walks, but he doesn't seem overly concerned.
"He'll figure it out," Maddon told the Rays' official website. "He'll get to that point where he knows exactly what he's doing out front, and when he does, it's going to be really fun to watch."
Moore will face an Astros team that's dropped eight of 12 after getting swept at home by the Los Angeles Angels .
Tampa Bay (43-39), meanwhile, finished a 4-2 homestand over the weekend by taking two of three from Detroit. The Rays swept their last series against Houston (30-52), winning three games from June 24-26, 2011.
Evan Longoria went 8 for 14 with three homers and 10 RBIs in that series, but the third baseman is questionable after missing the last two games with a sore right foot.
Dallas Keuchel (4-4, 4.34) probably wouldn't mind if the Rays' leader with 17 homers took another day to recover. In his last start June 21, the left-hander struck out nine for the first time, but he surrendered a career high-tying three homers in a 3-1 loss at the Chicago Cubs . Keuchel had been tagged for just five homers in eight previous starts since being inserted into the rotation May 10."I thought he made a couple of mistakes and they made him pay for it," manager Bo Porter said. "They were all solo home runs and he did a good job of keeping us in the game."
It was too late for Keuchel to do that Tuesday when he relieved Lucas Harrell , who allowed seven runs in 3 1-3 innings of a 13-5 loss to St. Louis. Keuchel fanned six in 2 2-3 innings, but allowed a two-run shot.
Keuchel has never faced Tampa Bay.
Carlos Pena won't get a chance to play his former team after leaving the Astros this weekend when a relative drowned in the Dominican Republic. Pena is expected back Tuesday.
Rays first baseman James Loney will try to extend his hitting streak to 12. The Houston native is batting .400 during that stretch.
Tampa Bay goes for a sixth consecutive victory in this series - all in Houston - after losing six of the first seven meetings.
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|June 28, 2013||Evan Longoria||Day-to-Day||Plantar fasciitis, left foot|
|June 16, 2013||Alex Cobb||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|June 05, 2013||Kelly Johnson||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|May 16, 2013||David Price||15-Day DL||Left triceps strain|
|May 15, 2013||David Price||Day-to-Day||Left tricep tightness|
|May 08, 2013||Brandon Gomes||15-Day DL||Strained right lat|
|June 29, 2013||Justin Maxwell||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|June 25, 2013||Justin Maxwell||Day-to-Day||Mild concussion|
|June 21, 2013||Trevor Crowe||15-Day DL||Sprained AC joint in right shoulder|
|May 26, 2013||Edgar Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 13, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back spasms|
HOUSTON (AP) -- Tampa Bay's Matt Moore shut down Houston on Monday night for his 11th win.
The Rays are impressed with his performance thus far, but believe the 24-year-old can do much more.
Moore allowed two hits in seven scoreless innings, and Ryan Roberts homered twice to give the Rays a 12-0 win over the Astros.
"He's going to continue to get better," manager Joe Maddon said. "That's his 11th win right there and we're still talking about the little foibles that he may have, yes. But to his credit he knows that and he knows that there's room for improvement, and because he does he's going to continue to get better."
Moore (11-3) won his third straight decision and Cesar Ramos pitched two perfect innings to complete the two-hitter and help the Rays win their third in a row.
He credited a lot of his success on Monday to his curveball.
"Yeah it was pretty good," he said. "It was definitely one of those things I could use later in the count pretty consistently without fear."
Roberts made it 3-0 with a two-run homer in the third inning off Dallas Keuchel (4-5) and tacked on another run with a solo shot in the eighth inning. It was his second two home run game of the season and the third of his career.
"We know everybody can hit on this team, and to see the guys come out and do it tonight, it was awesome to be a part of," Roberts said.
Sean Rodriguez had a career-high four hits - two doubles - with three RBIs and three other Rays added three hits apiece on a night they tied a season high in scoring and finished with 17 hits.
Chris Carter and Jake Elmore got Houston's only hits with singles as the last-place Astros dropped their fourth game in a row.
"It was just a tough, frustrating game watching them score the runs and just being on defense all day and watching it happen," Carter said. "Moore was tough today ... A lot of quick innings out of him and then we were on defense for a long time. It makes it tough."
Moore, who moved into a tie for second in wins among AL pitchers, struck out nine and walked three to tie his win total from last season when he finished 11-11.
Keuchel yielded eight hits and five runs with five walks in 4 2-3 innings. Paul Clemens couldn't slow the Rays down either, allowing five hits and four runs over the next two innings.
Wil Myers walked to start the third before a double by Ben Zobrist . The Rays took a 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly by James Loney with one out and Roberts extended the lead to 3-0.
Yunel Escobar drew a one-out walk in the fifth and Ryan Roberts singled with two outs. Jose Lobaton 's groundball single scored Escobar to make it 4-0. Sam Fuld 's RBI single left Tampa Bay up 5-0 and chased Keuchel.
Houston didn't get a hit until Elmore singled with two outs in the third. But Moore struck out Jose Altuve to end that inning.
He got into a bit of trouble in the fourth when Jason Castro walked with no outs before advancing to third on a single by Carter. He escaped the jam by striking out J.D. Martinez before Matt Dominguez grounded into a double play.
Moore sat down the next nine batters he faced before being replaced by Ramos for the eighth inning.
"I think we just kind of got on rhythm and got on a good pace," Moore said. "There were a lot of strike ones which we followed up with strike two. We weren't trying to mess around too much tonight."
Loney extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a one-out single in the seventh. The Rays then hit five consecutive singles, with the last four driving in a run each, to push the lead to 9-0. The Astros replaced Clemens with Hector Ambriz after the fourth hit in that stretch, but the trouble didn't end.
Ambriz allowed the fifth single before walking Zobrist to load the bases. Houston finally got out of the inning when Escobar, the 10th batter of the inning, grounded out.
NOTES: Tampa Bay 3B Evan Longoria was out of the lineup for the third straight game with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, but the Rays don't plan on placing him on the disabled list. He took ground balls before the game Monday. Maddon said he felt better on Monday and they hope he can play sometime in the four-game series in Houston. "It's still a day by day situation," he said. "We think that we might be able to get him back somehow, some way. We'll just wait and see. But overall, not so bad."... AL Cy Young winner David Price is scheduled return from his first-ever stint on disabled list and start for the Rays on Tuesday. He has missed 44 games with a left triceps strain. Maddon said he'll be more concerned with how Price feels on Tuesday than in the results. "If we could get six innings out of him that would be outstanding," Maddon said. "Primarily let's just wish him good health and the fact that we're beyond the problem. Because if he stays well and is able to pitch on a regular basis, he's going to put up good numbers."... The Astros expect 1B/DH Carlos Pena to be back with the team on Tuesday after he missed two games to be with his family in the Dominican Republic following the drowning death of his nephew. ... SS Carlos Correa, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft by Houston, was picked for the last spot on the World Team roster for the 2013 All-Star Futures game by winning a fan vote. He is hitting .323 for Class A Quad Cities.