With the victory, the Rays snapped a three-game losing streak and moved to 4-5 on the season -- and 1-2 on the current 10-game road trip that continues Friday in Boston. They also dodged having the broom sweep in their direction for the first time this season.
"It's really good to not be swept," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That's the one thing: If you can go through the season and avoid the sweeps, those one wins add up at the end of the season a lot."
The start of Wednesday's game was delayed one hour and 29 minutes when morning rain showers in North Texas lingered into the early afternoon. The temperature at first pitch registered 39 degrees, the second-lowest first-pitch temperature in the history of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The only colder contest was a night game on April 7, 2007, against Boston -- 38 degrees.
Tampa Bay didn't bring to mind the '27 Yankees with its offense. However, the attack -- which included an RBI fielder's choice by Ben Zobrist in the third and a sacrifice fly by Evan Longoria in the fifth, produced the only two runs of the game.
"You have to be able to score runs on outs in tightly contested games, and we did," said Maddon, whose team is off to a slow start on offense. "That's obviously the sign of a good team. The hits are going to come."
Two runs might as well have been 20 the way the Rays pitched and played defense.
Rays starter Matt Moore was effectively wild. He held the Rangers hitless for 4 1/3 innings before Craig Gentry singled to right. But he also issued a career-high six walks in his 5 1/3 innings.
Moore has "this nice little tempo, then all of a sudden you see the tempo [go away] and there's this little thing at the end of the delivery," Maddon said. "A little lagging of the arm. ... But when he's right on and that thing comes together, it's beautiful to watch from the side."
Moore was making his first regular-season start against the Rangers and his second overall start against them after picking up the win in Game 1 of the Rays-Rangers 2011 Division Series. He has now pitched 12 1/3 innings against the Rangers in Arlington and has yet to allow a run, while yielding just three hits.
Rather than dwell on what he has done against the Rangers, Moore opted to talk about the Rays' relievers.
"We're very fortunate to have the bullpen we have," Moore said. "I can honestly say I take advantage of that on a nightly basis when I'm out there."
Moore's compliment was well founded based on the 3 2/3 innings of relief by Cesar Ramos, Jake McGee, Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney.
Ramos took over with one out in the sixth after Moore walked Nelson Cruz. The Rangers eventually loaded the bases for Mitch Moreland, who grounded one to Kelly Johnson. The Rays second baseman flipped to shortstop Yunel Escobar, who threw late to first base.
The Rangers appeared to score a run on the play, but the Rays got some good news from second-base umpire Marty Foster, who called out baserunner Jeff Baker for interference, ruling his slide into Escobar was too far from second base.
Foster was behind the plate Monday night and admitted to making a bad strike-three call against Zobrist to end the game. So there was some irony in him making the call, though the call appeared spot on.
"I don't think he was making anything up," Maddon said. "I think he was making a legitimate call."
The Rays cut down another run in the eighth, with Zobrist throwing out Adrian Beltre to the end the inning as he tried to score from third on a flyout from pinch-hitter Leonys Martin.
"I wanted to give it a shot, because of where I was in the outfield and my arm felt pretty good," Zobrist said. "I wanted to give it a go. And fortunately when I let it go it was on line. It was just right there. [Catcher Jose Lobaton] hung in there, concentrated on catching it and making the tag. Good job there."
Some might have questioned Beltre running on the play, but not Rangers manager Ron Washington.
"We had to force them to make a play," Washington said. "He made a play; tip your hat."
At the end of the day, the ugly win felt like found money for the Rays.
"Defense has been great," Peralta said. "We're not scoring a lot of runs, but when we pitched like we did today and have good defense, a couple of runs and we win the game. … We could definitely get on a roll after a day like today."