'Outstanding' Moore regains All-Star form

Left-hander takes tough-luck loss in strong 7 1/3-inning start vs. O's

'Outstanding' Moore regains All-Star form

ST. PETERSBURG -- Matt Moore doesn't really think much about his 2013 season -- the year he went 17-4 with a 3.29 ERA and an All-Star appearance. He's quick to point out that he's three years and one Tommy John surgery removed from that season of dominance.

He closely resembled that pitcher on Saturday, though, allowing two runs over 7 1/3 innings in the Rays' 2-1 loss to Baltimore. He's completed at least six innings in his last eight starts, a span in which he's lowered his ERA from 5.56 to 4.33.

"I just feel like I'm pitching to my capabilities," Moore said. "Being able to string together back-to-back innings where we retired three in a row, I think that's something to hang my hat on most these days. Just being able to get some quick innings, keep my pitch count on track."

His strong performance on Saturday was overshadowed by one mistake, a 2-1 fastball to J.J. Hardy that resulted in a two-run homer. The game marked Moore's longest outing since July 22 of that 2013 season, but his best performance in nearly three years still resulted in Tampa Bay's 24th loss in its last 27 games.

Hardy's two-run home run

Moore saw a replay of his second-inning pitch to Hardy and thought it was a pretty good pitch. It ran in and hit its spot, but Moore acknowledged that Hardy is good at hitting inside pitches. The offense wasn't able to pick up its pitcher.

"Matt was the story today. … I think that's fairly obvious. Matt Moore was pretty outstanding again," manager Kevin cash said. "Gave us every opportunity to win. It stinks when you lose a ballgame on one pitch."

Cash pulled Moore from the game with one out in the eighth after a single by Chris Davis. Moore had been working quickly and had just 92 pitches and one strikeout -- something he attributed to Baltimore's aggressiveness at the plate. But Cash said he liked bringing in Dylan Floro, who is a ground-ball pitcher, in a double-play situation.

Moore said he felt great and that he's been building off good starts with more good starts. Despite showcasing his abilities in a rejuvenated way on Saturday, it was still another loss for the Rays -- a stretch of losing that Moore says is unparalleled to anything he's ever been a part of.

"It's kind of like football where there's offensive, defensive side of the football, there's special teams," Moore said. "There's a lot of parts to our team going into this skid. It's easy to look at things are going wrong and just kind of put your finger on them, but we're trying.

"We're just waiting for tomorrow to get here."

Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in Tampa. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.