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Monday, Mar 19, 2018
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Cobb dominant as Rays top Yankees

ST. PETERSBURG - ST. PETERSBURG No matter how beleaguered the Rays‚€™ bullpen may be, the starters remain stellar.

Alex Cobb showed the stuff that makes Tampa Bay‚€™s rotation among the best in the big leagues, shutting down the Yankees as the Rays salvaged the finale of a three-game set with an 8-3 victory Sunday in front of an announced crowd of 24,159 at Tropicana Field.

Cobb pitched into the ninth in his bid for his second career shutout before ending his afternoon by allowing two runs on five hits through 81/3 innings without walking a batter.

The right-hander improved to 6-2 and is 13-3 in his past 21 starts dating to Aug. 21, tied for the most victories in the majors during that time.

‚€œHe‚€™s got a nice way about him right now,‚€Ě manager Joe Maddon said. ‚€œHe‚€™s a very competitive guy and the confidence is building. And he pitched really, really well.‚€Ě

The Rays‚€™ offense provided plenty of support while pounding out seven runs against CC Sabathia (4-4), who has won just three of his 20 starts against Tampa Bay since joining the Yankees. He is 3-10 against the Rays since the 2010 season.

Sean Rodriguez led the way with a two-run homer and three runs scored, while James Loney added some insurance with a two-run homer in the sixth. Yunel Escobar also finished with a pair of hits, including an RBI double, and two runs.

But the day belonged to Cobb, who was called upon to respond following Saturday‚€™s extra-inning loss that saw the bullpen blow another ninth-inning lead.

‚€œHaving the bullpen get a little eaten up, I kind of wanted to go out there and attack and have them put the ball in play, hopefully go deep into the game and fortunately I was able to,‚€Ě Cobb said.

From the opening pitch, Cobb was in complete control, establishing command early while keeping Yankees hitters off-balance throughout. Only a controversial infield single by Jayson Nix in the third prevented Cobb from being perfect through six innings.

‚€œHe was unbelievable. He‚€™s been good all year and as consistent as you will find on the mound next to anybody in the big leagues right now,‚€Ě Rodriguez said of Cobb. ‚€œThat was phenomenal. He was throwing everything ‚€¶ he was mowing the hitters, had them guessing so bad, too. That‚€™s impressive.‚€Ě

Tampa Bay‚€™s four-run lead ballooned to seven in the bottom of the sixth, capped by Loney‚€™s fourth home run of the season. All that was left was for Cobb to try to get the complete game as he entered the ninth with an eight-run lead.

But Brett Gardner led off with a home run. Robinson Cano followed with a single before Cobb struck out Vernon Wells, and that ended the afternoon for the right-hander.

Cesar Ramos came in and walked the next two batters before allowing a bases-loaded, two-run double to David Adams that forced Joel Peralta to come and put out the fire, striking out the final two batters to preserve the victory for Cobb and help the Rays avoid being swept by the AL East leaders.

‚€œThese big games, I love to have them and they really make me focus in more,‚€Ě Cobb said.

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Cobb dominant as Rays top Yankees