ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Rays left-hander Matt Moore has seen his season take a negative turn.
Moore lost his third consecutive start Friday night, giving up five runs on seven hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings of Tampa Bay’s 7-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
Moore (8-3) struggles have come after he won his first eight decisions this year.
“If you just think about what I’ve done the last few starts, it’s pretty disappointing,” Moore said. “Any time that the command is not there, usually it’s something that had to do with my delivery.”
During his skid, Moore has allowed 20 runs in 12 1-3 innings.
“It’s going to come back to him,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “Again, I don’t know exactly the timeframe on that.”
The whole Rays rotation has slumped recently, giving up 33 runs in 31 innings over the last six games.
“That is awkward for us because we normally, on a nightly basis, you feel really good about your matchup, your starter versus theirs,” Maddon said. “We haven’t had that feeling in a bit.”
The Rays went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
“We can talk about our offense all we want, but until we start pitching like we can it’s going to be tough to get on a nice roll again,” Maddon said. “We have to pitch a lot better to get to the spot we want to get this year.”
Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza pitched six-plus innings to win for the first time in six starts and Elliot Johnson had another big hit against his former team.
Mendoza (2-3) gave up two runs and seven hits and three Royals relievers pitched three hitless innings as the Royals held a 13th straight opponent to three runs or fewer. Mendoza last won May 13.
“Our pitching’s been phenomenal,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Another game today with two runs. Mendy started out really shaky. He was all over the place and he was behind on everybody, but he really settled himself in and his command got better. To get us into the seventh inning like he did is a great job.”
Johnson had a tying triple among his two hits and Billy Butler drove in three runs for the Royals, who have won nine of 10.
Matt Joyce hit his 13th home run, off Mendoza’s third pitch of the game, and Evan Longoria drove in another run in the first inning with a double, giving the Rays a 2-1 lead.
Johnson, who had three hits including a three-run home run on Thursday night, tied it with a triple in a four-run fifth and scored on Alcides Escobar’s single to put the Royals ahead.
Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez followed with hits and Butler, who had driven in the Royals’ first run with a single, concluded the four-run inning with a sacrifice fly.
Butler drove in Kansas City’s final run with a two-out single off Fernando Rodney in the ninth.
“We’re playing some good baseball right now and it’s fun to come to the ballpark every day when you’re playing like that,” Butler said.
Perez had two of Kansas City’s 10 hits and drove in two runs.
The Royals have not given up as many as four runs in a game since May 31, when they lost 7-2 at Texas. They have given up 25 runs in 13 games this month.
NOTES: Longoria was the DH for the second straight game. The slugger said he has been bothered the past two weeks by plantar fasciitis. … Kelly Johnson, who has filled in at third for Longoria, has three hits in his last 33 at-bats. … The Rays have signed SS Riley Unroe, their second round pick in this year’s draft. His father, Tim Unroe, played five years in the majors.