Lefty goes five innings for first victory since undergoing Tommy John surgery
By Troy Provost-Heron
ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Moore had waited quite a long time to add another tally into his win column, but on Sunday, that wait came to an end.
Moore picked up his first victory since September 29, 2013, at Toronto in the Rays' 4-3 victory over the Astros after allowing three runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three over five innings.
The left-hander's first win since undergoing Tommy John surgery on April 22, 2014, though, was not as crisp as Moore would have hoped, as he allowed a baserunner in every inning he pitched except the fifth.
The shakiness began in the first after he walked Marwin Gonzalez with one out and then served up a double to Carlos Correa. Three pitches later, the Astros took an early 1-0 lead with an RBI groundout from Evan Gattis.
Then, Moore prolonged the inning by walking Colby Rasmus, but he was able to get out of the jam by getting Chris Carter to fly out to center field. Three innings later, though, with one on and two away, and the Rays holding a 2-1 lead, Moore grooved an 0-2 fastball, and Jose Altuve deposited it into the seats in left-center field.
It was the second career home run he had allowed on an 0-2 pitch and was the fourth time he had been given a lead in his three starts this season and was unable to hold it.
"Most of it has to do with how I'm getting into those jams and getting a pitch to salvage the inning and hang a zero," Moore said. "I got to be better than making a jam I have to get out of instead of just setting the tone early in the inning and at-bat. I didn't do a whole lot of that tonight."
Along with the negatives, though, came plenty of positives. Moore pitched a season-high five innings, threw his fastball with "a little more conviction," according to Rays manager Kevin Cash, and was able to limit the damage, stranding five of the eight baserunners he allowed to give the Rays a chance to win in their first-half finale.
But even then, Moore still wanted to accomplish more.
"I always expect to compete and battle," Moore said. "I feel good about the way I battled in those moments. I was expecting to work deeper into the game. That's one of my biggest disappointments today. We have a great bullpen, however, we don't like them coming in in the sixth inning and having them get 12 outs.
"I did some things OK, it's something to build off of."
The outing was not only good enough to pick up his first Major League win in 650 days, but it also helped the Rays complete a three-game series sweep heading into the All-Star break, turning things around for a club that had lost 10 of 11 coming into the series.
"It feels good to leave the park knowing that we had a chance to win when I came out of the game," Moore said. "But any time we can get a series sweep like this heading into the break, it feels good for everybody in here."
Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.