BOSTON — Matt Moore, making his first start since pitching in the All-Star Game, dazzled the Red Sox and pitched Tampa Bay to within a half-game of Boston in the American League East Monday night.
The second-year left-hander became the major leagues’ first 14-game winner as he tossed a two-hit shutout in his first career complete game, and the rampaging Rays posted a 3-0 victory in the opener of an important four-game series.
The win, only Tampa’s fourth in 13 games against the Red Sox this season, was the Rays’ sixth straight, their 14th in the last 15 games, 18th in their last 20. They pulled even with Boston in the loss column.
Moore won his sixth straight start in beating the Red Sox for the second time this season. He outdueled Red Sox rookie Brandon Workman (0-1), who yielded two runs in six innings in his second major-league start.
Moore gave up two singles and allowed only one runner as far as second base. During his six-start winning streak, he has allowed seven runs on just 20 hits.
Former Red Sox James Loney drove in two runs, Desmond Jennings had a ninth-inning sacrifice fly and Ben Zobrist had three hits for the Rays.
Moore struck out four batters in a row in the second and third innings and didn’t strike anyone out the rest of the night. He walked only one.
Workman has yielded two runs in each start and still doesn’t have a win.
Before the beginning of this series, Moore understood how important it would be to start strong.
“We try not to look at the standings in the division too much,” he said Sunday, “but it’s obvious and apparent they’ve been on top for a while. It’s going to be a good chance for us to do ourselves some good.”
During the five-game winning streak, Moore pitched 33 innings and allowed only 18 hits and seven runs, striking out 40. And he picked right up where he had left off before the break.
His teammates gave him a run in the first and could have had more as Workman threw 33 pitches.
The first three Rays singled, but Jennings, the first one, was picked off. With runners on first and third and one out, Loney hit a sacrifice fly, but Workman pitched around a walk to Luke Scott to escape further trouble.
Moore struck out four batters in a row after Mike Napoli’s single with one out in the second inning. He breezed through five innings, allowing only that one hit and a walk to Napoli, who was erased on a double play.
In the Tampa fifth, Yunel Escobar, back in the lineup after missing three games with a bad hamstring, walked and Jennings bunted him to second. Zobrist then beat out a hit to short (umpire Tony Randazzo appeared to blow the call) for his third single, as Escobar took third. Loney made it 2-0 with a two-out single.
Sunday: Sox win in 11
Mike Napoli’s 11th-inning home run gave the Red Sox an 8-7 win over the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on Sunday night.
Inexperienced pitchers Drake Britton and Pedro Beato pitched the 10th and 11th for Boston. Beato earned the win.