ST. PETERSBURG — The Tampa Bay Rays torrid rise up the major league standings continued Tuesday with a 5-1 win over the Milwaukee Brewers before an announced crowd of 16,249 at Tropicana Field.
Alex Cobb earned his seventh win of the season, Ben Zobrist hit a solo home run and the go-ahead decisive RBI double in the bottom of the eighth and the Rays moved one game shy of .500 after being 18 games under .500 through June 10.
The Rays were last a .500 team on April 22 when the club was 10-10.
The Rays' offense exploded in the bottom of the eighth, scoring four runs on three hits. In the inning, Zobrist hit a full-count RBI double to score Sean Rodriguez, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead. Logan Forsythe, batting for Matt Joyce in the eighth, followed with a double of his own to score Zobrist.
Brewers reliever Will Smith intentionally walked Evan Longoria and walked James Loney to load the bases, setting up a RBI single by Brandon Guyer and a RBI sacrifice fly from Cole Figueroa for a 5-1 lead.
Zobrist hit a two-out solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, his eighth of the season, to tie the game at 1-1.
Cobb (7-6) collected his third double-digit strikeout game this season with a season-high 12 strikeouts in eight innings pitched, allowing three hits, one earned run with two walks. Grant Balfour earned the save.
Former Rays pitcher Matt Garza, in his second appearance against Tampa Bay, went seven innings with one earned run, five hits allowed, two walks and two strikeouts. Smith earned the loss.
The Brewers took a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Aramis Ramirez scored on a sacrifice fly by Scooter Gennett.
Entering the game, the Rays had won 10 of their last 11 games since July 12 and had a record of 19-5 since June 28, the best record in MLB since that date. With a 17-5 record in July, the Rays own the best record in the majors for this month.
Over the past two seasons, the Rays are an MLB best 37-10 in the month of July.