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Rays notes: Pena contributing with his bat

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:36 PM
OAKLAND, Calif. -

Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Carlos Peña took over the team lead in RBIs when he drove in two Wednesday to give him 46 for the season, one more than Luke Scott.

His eighth-inning home run that landed in the right-field seats was his 15th of the season and gave the .198 hitter a boost of confidence.

"Of course when you connect with the ball and hit the ball in the seats and put another run on the board and contribute in that way, in that magnitude, is obviously satisfying because I work so hard on my craft, to reap some rewards is very encouraging," Peña said. "I'm very happy with the game (Wednesday). I'm glad I contributed. I'm glad we had a good road trip."

Cobb keeps his composure

RHP Alex Cobb allowed a home run to Brandon Inge and a double to Kurt Suzuki to start the fifth inning as the A's trimmed the Rays' lead to one run.

Cobb then retired the next three batters to stymie the rally and the Rays finished the road trip with a 4-1 victory.

Peña said he was impressed with how Cobb responded in that fifth inning.

"The way he stayed so poised through that, so calm through that, we won the ballgame because of that," Peña said. "Even though he was facing some adversity, I loved the way he stayed calm, kept it coming. It almost seemed like he was pitching in his backyard. I watched and I was like, that's good."

Cobb (5-8, 4.60 ERA) turned in his second solid start on the trip, during which he pitched a total of 14 innings and allowed only four runs.

"That was more what he looked like last year in July when he came up to help us out," manager Joe Maddon said. "Better command of his fastball, threw some really good curveballs, change-up had more depth to it."

Cobb pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning after allowing a pair of two-out singles. He struck out Brandon Moss to end the inning and start a run during which Cobb retired 10 straight batters. Inge ended that when he became the first right-hander to homer off Cobb during Cobb's major league career — a streak that covered 219 plate appearances.

"That was a big spot I was put in," Cobb said of the fifth inning. "I was getting out of pitchers' counts. I was getting into hitters' counts. Once I got back to attacking with the fastball and getting ahead of guys, it made it a lot easier. The biggest thing was next inning the offense put a run on the board to give me a two-run cushion, and made it a lot easier to go back out there."

Return of Big Game

RHP James Shields allowed three hits and struck out 11 on Tuesday when he beat the A's 8-0 for his first complete game of the season.

"We saw that a lot last year," Maddon said, referring to Shields's major league-best 11 complete games, including four shutouts, in 2011.

Using a game plan he devised with pitching coach Jim Hickey, Shields pitched primarily with his fastball and used his change-up and curveball when needed.

"He wanted me to stay aggressive early in the game, try to make them swing the bats. That's what I did," Shields said.

Shields threw only 98 pitches, didn't allow a runner past first base and pitched to only two batters over the minimum for his seventh career shutout. The last pitcher to have at least 11 strikeouts with 98 or fewer pitches was Sandy Koufax, who threw 97 pitches and struck out 12 on June 4, 1964, when he no-hit the Phillies.

"You know it's in there," Maddon said. "You know he's going to come back and pitch this way."

Noteworthy

RHP Josh Lueke, called up Tuesday to add depth to the bullpen, was optioned to Durham after Wednesday's game. The Rays will make a corresponding move before Friday's game. It's likely they will add an infielder. … CF B.J. Upton had his first two sacrifice bunts of the season during his first two at-bats. … 3B Ryan Roberts snapped an 0-for-19 slump with his fourth-inning RBI single. … The Rays are 20-47 in Oakland, 14-17 since Maddon took over in 2006.

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