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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays

Moore now 8-0 as Rays sweep Orioles

BALTIMORE - Runner at third base and one out in the third inning? No problem. Matt Moore pitched his way out of the jam.

Runner on third base, one out in the fourth inning? No problem, Moore pitched his way out of that jam, too.

Afterward, when Moore found himself in the uncomfortable position of having to talk about his remarkable start to the season, the Tampa Bay Rays' left-hander managed to wiggle out of that as well.

Moore said he owes everything to his teammates, who beat Baltimore 3-1 on Sunday at Camden Yards to complete a three-game sweep and move them into a tie for third place with the Orioles.

It also improved Moore to 8-0 in his nine starts and made him, at 23 years old, the youngest left-hander to begin a season with eight straight wins since 22-year-old Babe Ruth went 8-0 in 1917.

"It's good for our team, and that's kind of the biggest thing we can take away from my record," Moore said. "On my days to pitch we're winning all the games, and that's the most important part."

Pitching within walking distance of the Babe's birthplace, Moore allowed five hits over seven innings and extended his winning streak to a team-record nine games when you include his final start of 2012.

"He's awesome," Matt Joyce said. "He's done a great job. With the struggles that we've had here and there, he's really stepped up and been somebody we count on every time he goes out to pitch a good game and give us a chance to win."

The Orioles' lone run came from miscommunication between center fielder Desmond Jennings and Joyce in right field. They nearly collided on a fourth-inning line drive by Manny Machado that rolled to the wall for a triple. Adam Jones singled home Machado, then stole second and third with one out but never made it home.

Moore limited the damage that inning and became the first pitcher in the major leagues this season to win eight games.

Leading the majors in victories is kind of exciting, right?

"Yeah, I'm excited that we came out on the road and we're starting this road trip off right," Moore said. "Winning three games, not two out of three, that's very important for us heading to Toronto. Now we have some pretty good feelings, some pretty good emotions going into it. We're going to try and do that same thing in Toronto."

Satisfying? Yes, Moore said. He was satisfied Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney each tossed a perfect inning to close out the victory.

"I think from where he's coming from he knows he can be better from what he's shown from this point," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He doesn't like those five-inning outings. He doesn't like that at all. So I'm sure he's deflecting based on that. As you see him get deeper in to games more consistently, continue with the wins, I think you'll see him step out a little bit.

"I like the idea that there's humility involved. I like the idea that he knows he can get better. I love that. The accountability is tremendous, doesn't surprise me. Of course, historically speaking, it's been wonderful, but there is more in Moore, and I like that."

Luke Scott hit a go-ahead home run in the fifth inning, and Joyce made it a 3-1 game when his sixth-inning double was reviewed — after much discussion — and ruled a home run.

The Rays, winners of nine of their past 11 games, improved their road record to 9-12. Sweeping the Orioles, who have lost five straight, was a nice rebound from the way the last homestand ended.

"It's huge for us to bounce back like that, especially with the way we've been going on the road," Joyce said. "To come in here against a really good ball team, to win three games is huge for our confidence, huge for our momentum. We continue to play pretty good baseball. We're kind of excited to keep it going."
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