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Rays

Rays keep rolling in 7-0 blanking of Yankees

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Published:   |   Updated: September 25, 2013 at 06:53 AM

NEW YORK -- Matt Moore turned in another short outing. Shortstop Yunel Escobar left the game with an ankle injury. Catcher Jose Lobaton left with a bruised right elbow.

And the Tampa Bay Rays won.

Just shows when things are going well for the Rays they go well, and they are going well right now.

The Rays began their season-ending six-game road trip Tuesday with a 7-0 victory against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

The win, their fifth straight and 10th in their last 13 games, enabled the Rays to maintain their one-game lead over the Cleveland Indians and their two-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the wild-card standings with five games remaining. They also reduced their magic number of clinching a playoff spot to four.

It appeared as if that lead would grow to two games over Cleveland, but Jason Giambi homered in the bottom of the ninth as the Indians rallied past the Chicago White Sox.

All this on a night when Moore nearly was pulled when he loaded the bases in the third inning and again when the Yankees put two runners on in the fourth.

But Rays manager Joe Maddon said Moore had “a lot of bend but not break” in him and, “we built up a big enough lead there to survive the injuries.”

Escobar left the game after the fourth inning with a sore left ankle. He suffered the injury when he reached down to catch a low throw from James Loney, who was trying to start a 3-6-3 double play. Escobar then had to right himself to jump over the sliding Chris Stewart, twisting his ankle when Stewart caught Escobar's left foot with his foot.

“He's not awful, but I'm not sure about (today) yet,” Maddon said. “He'll know, we'll know when he wakes up.”

Escobar shook his head when asked how his ankle felt then limped out of the clubhouse.

Matt Joyce, who had only three hits this months, was moved to the leadoff spot in an effort to jump start his bat.

One at-bat does not break a slump, but Joyce started things off on a good note when he drove Hiroki Kuroda's second pitch of the night into the right field seats. It was Joyce's 18th home run of the season, his first since Aug. 23 when he homered off Kuroda at Tropicana Field and the fourth leadoff home run of his career.

“Matt probably shocked him a bit with that home run,” Maddon said.

Wil Myers followed with a single and David DeJesus doubled to left field to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. It became 3-0 when Evan Longoria hit a sacrifice fly to right field.

“That was huge, obviously,” Joyce said of his home run. “The position that we're in, it's really crunch time. Just to get things started the way that we did today was awesome. You set the tone right from the start. Obviously, Wil and David coming up behind me, not just settling for a couple of runs. But we kept attacking them, kept being aggressive, kept scoring. And that's what it's going to take.”

Moore, trying to rebound after a four-inning, six run (five earned) outing against Texas in his previous start, had an uneven outing Tuesday. He allowed three hits and did not give up a run. But he struck out four but tied his season-high with six walks and uncorked a season-high three wild pitches.

One might say Moore was effectively wild.

“That's probably the ultimate definition,” Maddon said. “You couldn't be more effectively wild than he was.”

One of those wild pitches bounced and hit Lobaton on the right elbow, knocking Lobaton out of the game with a swollen elbow.

“He should be fine,” Maddon said of his catcher.

Moore was gone after throwing 107 pitches (64 for strikes) in five innings. Still, he earned his 16th win of the year.

“He had no command of his fastball,” Maddon said. “The big thing with Matt is even when he gets a little wild and walks people he doesn't give up hits.”

Maddon said there several moments from third inning on when Moore was a batter away from being pulled. Brandon Gomes, Jake Odorizzi and Wesley Wright each warmed up in the bullpen at some point while Moore was still in the game.

“There were a lot of base runners on, so there were definitely some situations there where one base hit and we're a lot tighter game than we'd like to be with a three-run lead in the first,” Moore said. “Getting some of those key outs with runners in scoring position, I'm happy the way those went. Not very satisfied with the situation I put myself in it seemed each inning.”

Maddon said at one point he turned to pitching coach Jim Hickey in the dugout and said, “He might be walking folks but he's not giving up hits so I'm going to stay with him.”

But Moore was able to pitch himself out of each jam. Jamey Wright took over in the sixth inning and Jake Odorizzi pitched the final three innings to pick up his first big league save.

Meanwhile, the Rays offense managed another bases-loaded hit. This one came in the seventh inning when Loney doubled in a pair of runs to extend the lead to 5-0.

That's two hits on two at-bats with the bases loaded for the Rays in their past two games. Myers drove in two runs Monday to start the comeback against Baltimore.

The Rays were 0-for-18 with the bases-loaded until Myers's hit.

The Rays added two more runs in the ninth inning when Delmon Young and DeJesus had RBI doubles.

Noteworthy

RHP Jeremy Hellickson said he will start Friday in Toronto … The Rays are 10-7 against the Yankees this season, marking only the fourth time they've taken the season series. … The Rays are 5-3 at Yankee Stadium this season. One more win and the Rays will clinch only their second winning record in the Bronx. They were 5-4 in 2010 … The win was a team record 16th shutout of the season for the Rays … The Rays have now held an opponent to five or fewer hits a major league-high 45 times this season … Moore joins LHP David Price and RHP James Shields as the only 16-game winners in team history.

rmooney@tampatrib.com

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Twitter: @RMooneyTBO

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