Cobb comes through when Rays need it most

Righty delivers much-needed strong outing after Red Sox pounced early in previous 2 games

Cobb comes through when Rays need it most

BOSTON -- After Rays starting pitchers went just 4 2/3 innings and allowed 16 runs to the Red Sox in the first two games of the series, the club needed a solid start from Alex Cobb in Sunday's series finale.

That's exactly what they got. The right-hander quieted the Red Sox's bats in a 4-1 win, allowing just one run on four hits in five-plus innings for his 11th victory of the season, which helped the Rays pull within 3 1/2 games of the Twins for the second American League Wild Card spot.

"It was pretty important. He's kind of been that guy for us all season. He as much as anyone goes out and finds a way. Alex puts it on his shoulders and leads the staff," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "The last two days haven't been our best, but he wanted to make sure to go out and give a good performance and he did."

Catcher Wilson Ramos was impressed by the way Cobb attacked the zone.

"He handled that lineup well," Ramos said. "His sinker was good and the curveball. We took advantage of that."

Cobb has a 2.00 ERA in his past five starts, recording 29 strikeouts and just seven walks, but Sunday marked his second win during that stretch.

Already having allowed an RBI single to Christian Vazquez in the second inning, Cobb got some help from his defense with runners on second and third and one out. On a fly ball to right fielder Mallex Smith, Vazquez chose to test his arm and got nailed at the plate -- a play that stood after a Red Sox challenge -- to end the frame.

Vazquez out, call stands in 2nd

The Red Sox chased Cobb in the sixth when he allowed a leadoff single to Andrew Benintendi and then walked Mookie Betts. However, Dan Jennings got Mitch Moreland to ground into a double play and Rafael Devers to ground out to end the threat.

"Cobb shut us down. Good curveball, three or four pitches for strikes. Had a big opportunity in the sixth inning where we get a couple men on and then a ground-ball double play and a groundout," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "And that was pretty much the extent of the threat that we did mount. Other than that their bullpen came in and shut us down as well."

The Rays had been outscored, 18-3, in the series before Cobb's performance. The right-hander is now 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA and a .149 opponents' batting average in his past three outings against the Red Sox.

"It is kind of intimidating when you see that they put up 18 runs in the first two games," Cobb said. "You realize we need a stop in the biggest of ways to have a chance to stay in the Wild Card. You look forward to those types of moments to stop it and slow the momentum down."

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