CINCINNATI — RHP Alex Cobb earned his first win of the season Saturday, going seven superb innings in the Rays’ 1-0 victory against the Reds.
He allowed four hits and struck out five and extended his scoreless innings streak to 151⁄3. And, for the first time this season, the Rays scored a run with Cobb on the mound.
Cobb had thrown only 87 pitches when manager Joe Maddon lifted him in the top of the eighth inning for pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe, who doubled. In Friday’s win, Maddon let LHP David Price bat for himself in the ninth with a two-run lead despite throwing 107 pitches through eight innings.
“I just have a greater comfort zone with David throwing more pitches right now than I do Cobber based on experience,” Maddon said. “That’s just what I think I’ve learned the last couple years. I’m not afraid to take the wraps off Cobber, but when he does seven strong like that early in this part of the year, with him I thought it’s best to leave it there.”
Cobb figured he was done in by the National League rules. Had he pitched Saturday in an American League park, Cobb imagined he would have been allowed to go at least another inning.
“But proof was in the pudding,” Cobb said. “The fact that I think I looked pretty good at the plate, but Logan ended up getting a double, so the move was the right one, and we have two shutdown arms (in the bullpen).”
That would be LHP Jake McGee, who pitched a perfect eighth inning, and closer Grant Balfour, who walked Joey Votto with one out but picked up his fourth save in as many tries when he got Brandon Phillips to ground into a game-ending double play.
This afternoon, LHP Cesar Ramos makes his first big-league start since June 24, 2012, when he made an emergency start for the Rays in a makeup game at Philadelphia. He also made two starts for the Padres in 2009, the year he broke into the big leagues.
Ramos wanted the opportunity to start this season, and he has it now that he is replacing LHP Matt Moore (strained elbow) in the rotation.
“Definitely excited,” Ramos said. “Hopefully I can fill those shoes. Those are big shoes to fill. I’ll do my best. Hopefully it all works out.”
Maddon said he hopes to get four, maybe five innings out of Ramos if the southpaw can keep his pitch count down.
LHP Erik Bedard, who will be added to the roster today, could serve as the long man if Ramos has a short outing.
RF Wil Myers did not play Saturday, but Maddon said it was not because Myers is batting .239 through 10 games with no home runs and only four RBIs.
Maddon said he wanted to get LF David DeJesus in the lineup and wanted to keep RF Matt Joyce in the lineup.
As for Myers’ early-season slump, Maddon said, “He hasn’t gotten the ball in the air a whole lot. That’s the biggest thing. He needs to get the ball in the air more and that will definitely come. A little bit chasing, a little bit conceding to the pitcher.
“Once he gets the ball in the air, you’re going to recognize him a lot more easily. It’s too many ground balls, and you want him to drive the ball. Once he gets the ball airborne, he’ll be fine.”
Maddon said Myers will return to the lineup today.
Saturday was the eighth time in franchise history the Rays won 1-0 with the run coming on a home run. ... 2B Ben Zobrist has reached base in six straight games. ... McGee has pitched six scoreless innings to begin the season. ... 1B James Loney homered for the only run of the game. He is batting .341 with four homers and 25 RBIs in 40 career games against the Reds. ... Cobb is 5-1 in interleague play. ... Price has allowed two runs or less in seven of his past eight starts after holding the Reds to one on Friday. ... Joyce’s home run Friday was measured at 452 feet, his longest since he hit one 435 feet on June 2, 2009, against Kansas City. ... RHP Joel Peralta was sick and not available to pitch Saturday.