ST. PETERSBURG -- Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon liked what he saw during Matt Moore’s outing Wednesday.
He saw better command.
He saw a pitcher who got himself out of jams.
He saw a chance to win a ball game.
Problem was, Toronto starter Mark Buehrle was better.
“He might have found the fountain of youth,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said after the Blue Jays 3-0 victory in front of 10,808 at Tropicana Field.
Jose Bautista hit two long home runs for the Jays, and Buehrle did the rest, holding the Rays to four hits and coming within a dropped line drive by third baseman Brett Lawrie with two-out in the ninth of tossing a complete-game shutout.
As it was, Buehrle struck out 11 Rays -- eight looking.
“We were chasing just a little bit, but he kept getting calls on both sides (of the plate),” Maddon said. “When you’re getting that you stay there. He’s smart enough to stay there. He’s got that kind of command to stay there.”
It was just the second time Buehrle reached doubled digits in strike outs during his 434 big league starts. The first time since April 2005 against Seattle (12).
“It’s surprising I got that many strikeouts,” Buehrle said. “Usually I come out, strike out two in the first inning and that’s usually it. I think it shows my ball was moving and I was hitting my spots.
The Rays dropped their second straight game to fall to 1-2 on the season.
“We’re fine,” Maddon said. “We’re playing well. We have not hit the ball like we can the last two nights, although he we made better contact with no luck (Wednesday).”
Moore, making his frist start of the young season, allowed two runs in fourth inning. The first came on Bautista’s first homer of the year. The second scored when Dionar Navarro singled home Edwin Encarnacion.
“To say (I pitched) really well, that would be a stretch,” Moore said, “but I think overall in a couple of those innings where we had runners on, being able to shut them down before they did any damage like we did, I’m happy about that.”
Moore stranded two runners in the top of the first inning with the help of a stellar play by third baseman Evan Longoria, who jumped to grab a grounder by Navarro that struck the third base bag and took a big hop. Longoria then out-raced Melky Cabrera to the base for the inning-ending forceout.
Cabrera had singled to start the inning and moved to second when Bautista drew a one-out walk.
Moore set the Jays down in order in the second and third innings and appeared to have settled into a groove.
Then Bautista reached the left field seats with a long drive for the only run Buehrle would need.
“Mark did a good job of setting the tone of how fast we were going to go,” Moore said, “a lot of really quick sit-downs and back up at it.”
If it wasn’t for designated hitter Logan Forsythe, Buehrle would have been crafting a perfect game through five innings and a no-hitter through six. Forsythe singled in the second inning and doubled in the fifth. Yunel Escobar walked to start the sixth.
Longoria collected the Rays third hit of the night -- a single to open the seventh. But Forsythe grounded into a 3-6-3 double play.
Moore allowed six hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
“It wasn’t god awful,” Maddon said. “He had three walks in 5 2/3 innings, that’s not bad for him right there. Six hits. I thought he pitched well. That’s definitely good enough to win a ball game. Two runs in 5 2/3, I’ll take that out of all of our starters, actually.”