CHICAGO (AP) — Matt Moore keeps piling up wins and his current run shows no sign of abating.
Moore became the first Tampa Bay pitcher to win five games in April, helping the Rays snap a two-game skid with a 10-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.
“I’m telling you, there’s more in Moore,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “If his fastball continues to go where he wants it to go he could stay hot for a long time.”
The left-hander joined Boston’s Clay Buchholz as the only five-game winners this month. Moore allowed just three hits, one earned run and matched a season high nine strikeouts in six innings.
There were some worries about Moore in spring training but they’ve long since eased.
“He was not very sharp in camp,” Maddon said. “But he’s built on each outing. I know the last game he pitched eight (innings), but he has been just as good and maybe a little bit better tonight. I thought his overall command was even better tonight.”
Moore’s 1.13 ERA is second-lowest in the majors behind St. Louis right-hander Jake Westbrook (0.98). And Moore has frequently benefited from early offensive help, including a quick 2-0 led after a half inning on Saturday.
“It seems like every time we’ve been on the road I’ve had a lead going into the bottom of the first,” Moore said. “That makes it so much easier for a starting pitcher to kill those nerves or anxiousness going out there. … It’s very encouraging seeing that happening in the top of the inning.
Tampa Bay, now 3-9 on the road, pounded out 19 hits — its most since June 26, 2011.
Kelly Johnson matched a career-high with four hits while driving home two runs. Evan Longoria also matched a career-best for hits, going 4 for 6 with two runs scored.
“Offensively it was a pretty good night up and down,” Maddon said. “A lot of guys had great nights. … It was a really interesting offensive night and hopefully we’re going to gain some confidence from it.”
The 19 hits and 10 runs allowed were a season-high against the White Sox, who lost a three-game winning streak.
For the second straight night the Rays jumped out to an early lead. Rays shortstop Ben Zobrist broke out of a 0-for-9 series slump with a two-run homer in the first inning. Zobrist took White Sox starter Gavin Floyd’s 0-1 pitch and drove it to right to score Matt Joyce with one out for a 2-0 lead.
Floyd (0-4) left the game with two outs in the third with a right elbow strain. He threw just 47 pitches, gave up two hits and two earned runs.
Hector Santiago entered in early relief and was greeted by Longoria’s double. He then scored on James Loney’s single to left for a 3-0 lead.
White Sox DH Adam Dunn broke the shutout with two outs in the fourth with his second home run in three games to trim Tampa Bay’s lead to 3-1.
Johnson’s two-out single in the fifth inning brought Longoria home for the second time and opened a 4-1 lead.
Leadoff batter Desmond Jennings added a solo shot in the sixth for a 5-1 Tampa Bay lead. In the seventh, Jose Lobaton singled off reliever Donnie Veal and brought home Johnson, who had tripled with one out.
Lobaton later scored on Veal’s wild pitch to make it 7-1. Johnson’s two-out RBI single in the eighth brought home Loney for an 8-1 lead.
“Honestly, (Moore’s) one of the better pitchers I’ve ever faced,” White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie said. “He moves the ball both sides of the plate, throwing curve balls for strikes. Sometimes you’re just going to run into that at this level, guys that are just on. He was on tonight. There’s not much we can do.”
Moore left after six innings. Reliever Jake McGee worked out of a seventh-inning jam after loading the bases with two singles and a walk, then struck out De Aza.
The White Sox loaded the bases again in the eighth with one out on Rays reliever Kyle Farnsworth and scored twice on singles form Alexei Ramirez and Gillaspie.
Reliever Joel Peralta came in and struck out Tyler Flowers for a second out, but then walked Jordan Danks to force in another run. He struck out De Aza to escape the inning. Tampa Bay replied with two runs in the top of the ninth.
“They were locked in,” Santiago said. “It was like, you made a good pitch and they blooped it or fouled it off and then you made another good pitch and they got another hit. It was like it was just their night.”
Rays starting catcher Jose Molina left the game with one out in the fourth after Floyd hit him with a pitch, causing a right quad contusion. Lobaton came in as a pinch runner and took over behind the plate.
Tampa Bay sends left-hander David Price (0-2, 2.52 ERA) against Chicago right-hander Dylan Axelrod (0-1, 3.80 ERA) in Sunday’s series finale.
NOTES: Tampa Bay shortstop Yunel Escobar missed his third straight game Saturday and remains day to day with right hamstring tightness. … Price and Alex Cobb took batting practice Saturday The two are scheduled to pitch in Colorado in an upcoming interleague series.