ST. PETERSBURG The first question thrown at Matt Moore on Saturday night after he won his 12th game of the season was if he felt he deserved to make the All-Star team. Moore was somewhat stunned by the question, but what the heck, did he feel that way? "I think those decisions are all subject to people's opinion and things like that," Moore said after he helped pitch the Rays past the visiting White Sox, 3-0, in front of 21,047 at "Turn Back the Clock Night" at Tropicana Field. The teams for the July 16 All-Star Game at Citi Field in New York were announced about 30 minutes before Moore threw his first pitch. Ben Zobrist was the lone Ray to make the team, though that can change if there is an injury to one of the All-Stars this week.
"In no way do I want to take away from anybody who did make the team," Moore said. "I'm very happy for Zobrist. He's a great player to take off this team as far as winning one game, very versatile, can do a lot of different things. "I'm extremely happy for Ben. Hopefully we can get a win in the All-Star Game and set us up for the playoffs." Moore pitched 6 1/3 innings of five-hit ball to win his fourth straight start Saturday. He walked two and struck out six to improve his record to 12-3. He joined David Price as the only Rays pitchers to win 12 games before the All-Star Break. Price did it last season, earning win No. 12 in the Rays' 88th game. Saturday was the Rays 88th game, too. "He certainly pitched like an All-Star," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "There's still a possibility. We'll see how it all shakes out these next couple of days." Moore was matched against White Sox left-hander Chris Sale, who is now 0-6 in his last seven starts despite a 3.10 ERA. Sale, who fell to 5-8, will represent the White Sox in the All-Star Game along with reliever Jesse Crain. "I'd definitely trade that in for a win," Sale said of his selection. "It's an honor. I'm very thankful and fortunate to be in that position." Moore could be in the same position, but wasn't one of the 14 pitchers voted by the players or selected by Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who will manage the American League squad. "He, to me, is an All Star-caliber pitcher," Sam Fuld said. "We wouldn't be eight games above .500 without him." Moore said he is not disappointed with what many view as a snub. "Not really," he said. "I didn't have a goal at the start of the season and say I want to make the All-Star Team. It wasn't like that. If things had been a little different in that rough streak I could have had a chance, but it is what it is. Zo's going to go over there and play his butt off and hopefully get a win." The last time Sale and Moore hooked up at the Trop they combined for 25 strikeouts, including 15 from Sale, in a 2-1 White Sox win on Memorial Day 2012. Sale struck out nine Saturday and fell victim to the only two left-handed hitters in the Rays lineup - Luke Scott and Fuld. Scott doubled to right field in the second inning to score Yunel Escobar with the game's first run. It was the first extra-base hit Sale had allowed to a left-handed hitter all season. "That was a big knock," Maddon said. Fuld singled home Wil Myers in the sixth inning for the final run of the night. Scott was only in the lineup because Evan Longoria's right foot felt well enough to allow him to play third base. Otherwise Longoria would have been the designated hitter and Scott would have sat on the bench. Fuld played because Maddon had to play two lefties against Sale. And with Moore more likely to get the White Sox to hit the ball in the air, Maddon wanted his best outfield defense. Scott and Fuld became the first lefties to drive in runs against Sale this season. "If you look at (Sale's) numbers it's not very confidence-inspiring and I did, unfortunately, look at those numbers before the game," Fuld said. "But I faced him before, I faced him earlier this year. I don't know, in some ways you sort of simplify your approach and sort of see the ball, hit the ball and you naturally shorten up with a guy who has outstanding stuff like that." Fuld is now batting .357 against lefties this season. It was the 10th shutout of the season for the Rays, who have won seven of their last eight games to move a season-high eight games over .500. Moore continued the run of solid starts by the rotation. Rays starters have pitched at least six innings in 15 of their last 17 games. Moore was in one real jam. That came in the third inning when he hit leadoff batter Alejandro De Aza and walked Alexei Ramirez to start the inning. Both runners then advanced on a wild pitch. But Evan Longoria, also passed over for an All-Star berth, caught a line drive by Alex Rios and doubled De Aza off third when he dove and tagged the bag with his glove before the White Sox center fielder could scramble back to the base. Moore left with one out in the seventh inning and a runner on first after a single by Gordon Beckham. Jake McGee came on and needed one pitch to get out of the inning, a bouncer from Tyler Flowers to Longoria, who started a 5-4-3 double play. Joel Peralta worked the eighth inning, then Fernando Rodney retired the side in order in the ninth for his 19th save. Moore took his quality outing in stride. "We're playing great right now, so really all I'm trying to do on my night is to keep the ball rolling," Moore said. "What (Jeremy Hellickson) did (Friday) night was very impressive. To have that bullpen come in after me and get those remaining eight outs is very reassuring for what we're all about, pitching and defense." [email protected] (813) 259-7227 Twitter: @RMooneyTBO