Karns battles way through quality start

Right-hander fans seven and allows two runs over six innings Monday vs. Tribe

Karns battles way through quality start

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nathan Karns battled Monday night and deserved better than a loss for his effort.

"I thought Karnsy, for not having really good stuff, or his best stuff, he really battled," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Karns took his fourth loss, while delivering his sixth quality start of the season in the Rays' 7-1 loss to the Indians. The right-hander never gave in to the Indians, and despite giving up a career-high-tying nine hits, he surrendered just two runs in six innings while striking out seven.

"Even though the stuff wasn't as good, and he wasn't as sharp, he still limited them to 2-0," Cash said. "I don't know how many guys he left on base, but there were multiple innings where it could have gotten out of hand. And he kept it right there and gave us a chance to win."

Karns allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in the first five innings before retiring the leadoff hitter in the sixth -- his final inning. Of the 99 pitches he threw, 74 were delivered out of the stretch.

"That game could have been 5-0 in multiple innings," Cash said. "It actually felt like we were down by much more than two throughout the course of that game. So he did a nice job of battling out there and made some nice pitches when he had to."

Indians hitters went 9-for-25 against Karns, but only 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"I think I limited damage after the initial hitter of each inning," Karns said. "After that I just let my defense make plays for me and just tried to work the best I could with [catcher] Rene [Rivera]."

While Cash noted that he didn't think Karns had his best stuff, Karns said he felt like he had his "normal stuff."

"They just did a good job of waiting for a fastball," Karns said. "At times I fell behind, so that helped them out as well. I really felt like when my back was against the wall I was able to execute pitches."

Karns has pitched 12 innings in his last two starts and the Rays haven't had a baserunner in support of him. Monday night, Indians starter Cody Anderson had a perfect game through 6 1/3 innings, and in Karns' previous start on Wednesday, Blue Jays starter Marco Estrada had a perfect game through 7 1/3 innings.

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Karns now has 12 starts in which he has allowed two runs or fewer, tying Oakland's Sonny Gray for most in the American League.

Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.