ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Moore had his best outing of the season and the Rays' offense came through with a big fifth inning Sunday afternoon in a 5-0 win over the Astros at Tropicana Field.
Moore entered the game having gone 1-4 with a 6.49 ERA in his previous nine starts. Sunday, he dialed up seven scoreless innings, limiting the Astros to two hits -- both from Jose Altuve -- while striking out 10 to move to 3-4.
"Matt Moore was tremendous," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Gave us an outing that was really needed. Our bullpen was fairly taxed. Has been taxed. And he really showed up, between what he and [Chris] Archer did back to back, kind of reset everything going into the off-day."
Added Astros manager A.J. Hinch: "He threw it by us. He used his fastball and really dominated us with his fastball. He had a pretty good breaking ball going, too. But he had his power stuff going, and he was just wild enough to pitch around the strike zone. We built the pitch count really high very early and didn't get anything to show for it."
The Rays sent 10 hitters to the plate in the fifth against Astros starter Dallas Keuchel, who needed 35 pitches to record the third out. Logan Morrison doubled to right to start the inning that that saw the Rays' first run score on a fielder's choice, the second on an error by third baseman Luis Valbuena, followed by a two-run single by Mikie Mahtook and an RBI single by Evan Longoria.
Keuchel pitched four scoreless innings before the Rays delivered their fifth-inning knockout punch. Last year's American League Cy Young Award winner allowed four earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks, striking out nine en route to his ninth loss of the season.
"From the first pitch to the last pitch, I felt the exact same," Keuchel said. "It's disappointing, because Matt Moore was pretty much dominant, and I was doing my job correctly, and then all of a sudden five runs on the board."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Endure, survive and thrive: Moore got tested in the second when he needed 37 pitches to get out of the inning, even though he faced just five batters. Among the hitters Moore faced, Valbuena had an 11-pitch at-bat, Jason Castro nine, and Tyler White eight. The left-hander finished strong, pitching through the seventh (114 pitches), allowing no runs on two hits and a walk while striking out 10.
"He was on pace to probably go five innings and max out right there, just because of pitch count alone, no matter how well he was pitching," Cash said. "But he did a tremendous job of resetting, attacking the strike zone and getting some earlier outs." More >
Keuchel coughs up runs: After holding the Rays to one hit through four innings, the left-hander experienced a bunch of problems in the fifth. Morrison cracked a leadoff double to right field before Steven Souza Jr. singled to right and Desmond Jennings brought home Morrison from third on a fielder's choice to break the scoreless tie. The Rays added four more runs in the frame, with Logan Forsythe, Longoria and Mahtook (two) also producing RBIs.
"It's just the way it's going," Keuchel said. "So I'll stick with it, and I would like for it turn around. If anybody's got any ideas, that would be great." More >
Mahtook matters: After going 1-for-21 in May, Mahtook has hit safely in five of his last six games. The Rays' outfielder played a key role in the five-run fifth. After falling behind 1-2 against Keuchel, Mahtook lined a single into center field that drove home two and kept the rally going.
Disappointing defense: Keuchel wasn't the only one who had issues in the fifth. The inning included a throw from Altuve that brought White off first base to squander a possible double play. Later, Valbuena was charged with an error when he misplayed a ground ball from Forsythe.
"As an infielder, you want to make every single play to help your pitchers, to help your team," Altuve said. "We have to understand, too, that this is 162 games. You're going to make a lot of plays, but you're not going to be able make some of those plays."
"I don't believe in bad luck." -- Keuchel, when asked if he felt like his misfortune in the fifth was the result of poor luck
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Rays recorded their fourth shutout of the season -- the last one was on May 14 vs. Oakland, 6-0 -- and their third at home. Three times this season, the Rays have had a shutout on two hits or fewer.
Jennings left Sunday's game after seven innings due to left-quad tightness and is day-to-day.
"Not very serious," Cash said. "We think that it happened on the balls he was running down [in center field] in the first couple of innings. … It just kind of made the most sense in a game that's 5-0 there. Let's get him [out] because the way he's swinging the bat, and the way he's playing, we want him to get back out there real quick."
MOMENT OF SILENCE
A moment of silence was held before the national anthem in honor of the shooting victims in Orlando. The nightclub is located about 105 miles from Tropicana Field.
WHAT'S NEXT Astros: Right-hander Doug Fister (6-3, 3.34 ERA) starts for Houston to begin a two-game series against St. Louis at 7:15 p.m. CT on Tuesday at Busch Stadium. His five-start winning streak is the longest by an Astros pitcher this season. It's his longest streak since winning five straight from Sept. 8, 2014, to April 16, 2015.
Rays:Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.47 ERA) will make his 13th start when the Rays host the Mariners on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field in a 7:10 ET contest. Sixteen of Odorizzi's 28 earned runs have come within the first two innings. He has a 6.23 ERA in the first, a 4.85 ERA in the second, and a 2.31 ERA after the second.